Farm sales and prices fall

Southern farmers went into autumn with optimism for dairy prices and export returns from beef,...
Southern farmers went into autumn with optimism for dairy prices and export returns from beef, lamb and horticulture; pictured, sheep in Central Otago in May. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
The volume of farm sales is down, both quarterly and annually, largely due to fewer sales of arable and grazing properties, and monthly prices eased overall by 17.1% in June.

Otago was in the bottom quartile of 14 regions across the country, albeit its decline in farm sales was only just in double figures.

Mycoplasma bovis' presence in Otago and Southland has prompted increased inquiries from dairy farmers seeking herd self-containment by buying their own dairy support blocks.

Nationally, farm sales for the year to June were down 17% from last year at 1480 properties, the largest declines being a 25% fall in arable farm sales and a 28% fall in grazing properties.

Dairy was down just 1.2% and finishing farms 3.2%, according to Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data released yesterday.

REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said while there was an anticipated easing in sales volumes during the early winter period of June, sales figures for the three-month period to June indicated "an encouraging degree of resilience".

"The resilience applied particularly to the drystock sector, with strong performances in the finishing and grazing categories, underpinned by steadiness in the horticulture industry," Mr Peacocke said in a statement.

The median per hectare price for all farms sold in the quarter to June was $21,745, compared with $25,993 a year ago. The median dairy farm sale price per hectare was $31,881, down 8.4% from $34,789 last year.

Horticulture per hectare rose from $159,161 across 62 properties last year to $279,543 across 57 properties.

Mr Peacocke said the agriculture sector began winter "in good shape" and "solid confidence" following a very good autumn, with good dairy payout forecasts and ongoing optimism for export returns from beef, lamb and horticulture.

However, he said the pervading presence of Mycoplasma bovis remained the dominant biosecurity issue and outbreaks were still having a devastating impact on those farming and rural businesses affected.

Early spring, when dairy and beef animals were likely to be under maximum stress, would be the real test period for the government and industry-backed eradication programme, Mr Peacocke said.

It would be a period "nervously awaited" by the farming sector and also the wide variety of rural industries providing primary industries backup, he said.

Mr Peacock said around Otago, there was strong, consistent sales activity for grazing and finishing units, plus the dairy farmer inquiries for dairy support blocks.

While cherry orchards in Central Otago were in short supply, there had been inquiries, as there was also for blocks for planting pine trees.

Around Southland, there was "simmering of activity" surrounding dairy and finishing properties. There was strong sales activity on grazing units, where sheep and beef inquiry was increasing, as it was for the dairy support blocks, he said.

Half the 14 regions recorded quarterly increases in farm sales. Manawatu/Whanganui was up by 21 sales, Waikato was up by eight and Hawke's Bay was up by six.

Canterbury and Northland recorded the most substantial decline, down by 23 each, and Otago was down by 12.

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