While the good weather in recent weeks has resulted in a growth spurt in grass, ongoing uncertainties due to Brexit, current poor beef prices and Covid-19 have all taken their toll on grass let prices this year.

Although it is only marginally back in some cases on the year, after an exceptional year last year, the fact remains that confidence has gone from the grass letting market.

“There just isn’t the same amount of people looking for grass and we have struggled to let the private grass this year – just with not having the same demand for it,” said Iain Dick, Harrison and Hetherington’s auctioneer at St Boswells.

“People are cost watching this year and are trying to keep their outputs as low as possible to ensure future business in such unknown times. Some buyers are also happy to work away at home with the grass they have, rather than letting more grass out and the reduced number of stock around has also taken an impact on our prices.

“Our average in our auctions would be down 1% on the year, to average around £90 for around 1000 acres,” he said.

Daniel Johnston, auctioneer at Lawrie and Symington’s Forfar market, also said grass let prices were back on the year. “This year we produced an average of £149 per acre for 140 acres which would be back a couple of pounds on the year.

“People are just being a little more cautious with their costs in the short term. No one wants to add extra costs when they do not know what the outcome will be in the foreseeable future,” said Mr Johnston.

In Castle Douglas, John Smith, the senior sheep auctioneer at Wallets Marts, added: “In general, we would be back between 10-15% on the year, with there being a lot of grass around. Trade was ridiculously high last year, so it was always going to have to come down at some point.

“The amount of acres were roughly the same through our auction on the year, but generally there would have been fewer private lets and as they don’t get the same price fluctuation, in comparison to last year they would be letting for the same value,” he added.

Covid-19 caused the cancellation of this year’s grass park let at Caledonian Marts’ sale, which was due to take place March 26, 2020, right at the time lockdown measures were introduced.

“We had to communicate with buyers and sellers from last year to get the majority sold. Most of the lets we did manage to get away, were at the same price for the same amount of acres.

“We let around 2500-3000 acres a year, this year averaging between £75 to £80 an acre, with some lets going as low as £10 and rising to £108. All the grass is let in the Central Belt of the country.

“The private lets were not affected the same, as they generally are sold at the same amount anyway. This year’s auction lets we based on a like for like on the year,” said Alastair Logan, auction ops manager at Caledonian Marts.


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