The first nine months of the year saw the price of farmland in Ireland contract marginally, according to the latest data from Sherry FitzGerald Research.

Agricultural land values nationally, excluding Dublin, reduced by 1.8% over the period, the auctioneer found

Subsequently, the weighted average price of farmland at the end of quarter three was approximately €9,130/ac.

Following a stable opening quarter, reductions of 0.9% were recorded in both quarter two and quarter three.

While small, this resulted in values declining in successive quarters for the first time in almost three years. As a result, average values in the market were on par with those of the final quarter of 2017.

All regions saw values fall in the nine months to the end of September 2019, although decreases were most pronounced in the midlands, which saw a drop of 4.7%, and the west, with a drop of 4.4%.

The south-east and the south-west recorded the next largest falls at 2.0% and 1.7% respectively.

The mid-west and the mid-east, the regions in which growth was strongest for the past two years, saw the smallest decreases in the nine-month period at 0.1% and 0.5% respectively.

The fall in values was broadly similar across all farming types, with prime grassland and prime arable land both falling by 1.8% to September end, while marginal grassland reduced by 1.7%, according to Sherry Fitzgerald.

As such, the weighted value of prime arable nationally, excluding Dublin, was approximately €11,010/ac, with prime and marginal grassland standing at €10,320/ac and €6,060/ac respectively.

While the decline in prices was not substantial, agents reported a notable deterioration in buyer sentiment across all regions in quarter three.

This was largely because of the approaching Brexit deadline at the time, where there was a heightened possibility that the UK may leave the EU without an interim deal, as well as the beef factory protests which were ongoing, according to the estate agent.

Evidence on the ground suggests this increased nervousness in the market had a knock-on effect on activity levels, which reported as being down.

In contrast, supply levels remained largely stable, Sherry Fitzgerald Research found.

Commenting on the overall market, Roseanne De Vere Hunt, head of Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes, Farms and Estates, said:

Weaker confidence levels have led to a soft contraction in the market, although positively, stock levels overall have not seen a significant reduction.

“Moving forward, we are hopeful of a better functioning market in the new year,” De Vere Hunt concluded.