Farmland value strength set to stay in 2024, Carter Jonas says

Carter Jonas' latest farmland market update shows that all land gained value in 2023
Carter Jonas' latest farmland market update shows that all land gained value in 2023

All types of agricultural land gained value in 2023 with experts optimistic that the trend will continue in the coming 12 months.

The latest update from property consultancy Carter Jonas shows strong market performance in the face of high inflation and rising borrowing costs.

Data shows average arable values increased by 3.8% in 2023 to £9,583/acre, with pasture rising by 3.7% to an average of £7,750/acre.

Andrew Chandler, head of rural at Carter Jonas, said that while the market hasn’t been completely unaffected by current economic fluctuations, it is more resilient because of cash buyers.

“We have seen an uptick in debt-driven launches bringing more supply to the market in recent months, and growth in capital values has slowed,” he said.

“Yet, the prominence of cash buyers means that land values are less exposed to increasingly expensive debt than other property markets.

“Significantly, many landowners have sold land for development purposes over the past couple of years and need to ‘rollover’ the funds within a three-year timeframe to defer Capital Gains Tax.

"As a result of supply levels being historically low, many of these sellers have not yet found a new asset, resulting in a pool of ‘waiting cash’.”

Supply fell back in the winter when the economic outlook improved, and inflation fell faster than expected.

However, farmland values still increased moderately from Q3 to Q4; arable land values rose 0.7% from Q3.

Pasture land values increased at a faster rate, rising by 0.9%, with secondary and tertiary pasture values continuing to outpace most other land types.

This is led predominantly by the South and the East of England and correlates with a more advanced natural capital market.

These evolving natural capital markets are bringing an increasing array of purchasers to the market, Mr Chandler explained.

"With the introduction of mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain on 12 February, the number of natural capital buyers will accelerate," he said.

"It will also offer opportunities for landowners who wish to diversify their income streams.”

Over the past year, Carter Jonas has been monitoring responses to changing support payments and concerns about food security. This scrutiny is likely to intensify in the coming year.

However, public environmental schemes have evolved again, with some Sustainable Farm Incentive (SFI) standards looking to complement food production.

“Some rates have shifted upwards significantly, which is likely to encourage more businesses to opt in,” Mr Chandler said.

“Defra’s most recent changes in January set out the aim of: “Seeing 65% of farms adopt nature-friendly practices on 10 to 15% of their land.”

“We can expect the year ahead to be defined by accelerated structural change, with private and public environmental schemes looking more appealing.

"Initial signs suggest this may be less to the detriment of food production.”