By Debbie James

A lack of clarity on the future of farm subsidies combined with the unknown implications of Brexit are thought to be reasons why farmland sales have slowed down in Wales.

Nearly 3,000 fewer acres came onto the market in 2019 compared to the previous 12 months.

But while less land was offered for sale the number of farms on the market increased by five, suggesting that it is smaller businesses that are exiting the industry.

Jenny Layton-Mills, a partner in McCartneys, says despite this trend, demand for farmland in Wales remained resilient in 2019.

This was underpinned by a shortage of supply, which could be attributed to the uncertain political climate.

Agents expect vendor confidence to grow this year but clarity on future farm subsidies and the effect of Brexit remain key.

Mrs Layton-Mills says there continues to be variations in both levels of demand and achieved sale values across the country; neighbours snapping up land opportunities appears to be a key driver for sales.

“This year we expect vendor confidence to grow as farms come onto the market in the spring, albeit with a degree of caution until we are clearer on the future of farm subsidies,’’ she says.

She also anticipates that farms with a strong lifestyle focus will continue to perform well, particularly those with an established second income stream.

As Wales gains further clarity on subsidies, there is potential to see increased interest in farm purchases.

Land that can be ploughed for arable cropping is the most popular, with higher, steeper permanent pasture land harder to sell.

“As always, it can depend on the surrounding landowners, homeowners and their ability to borrow funds,’’ says Mrs Layton-Mills.

Farmers that diversified some time ago can be prime investors, she suggested.

“Those who have done so more recently can find it more difficult to now borrow.’’

The market, she adds, requires a greater selection of farms; those that are well located and have easily adapted, are selling well.