MAY 9, 2008: There is a more optimistic mood in agriculture, according to an economic study.

Martin Doyle, NatWest and RBSagriculture director in Wales, says optimism is higher than it has been for some time – giving farmers confidence to invest again in their business.A reliable barometer was the proportion of existing farmers buying farms, with Savills reporting that 53 per cent of purchasers in 2007 were farmers – the fourth year this proportion had increased.In 2007 tractor sales were also up 15 per cent on 2006, with numbers continuing to rise in 2008. First quarter sales were 3 per cent higher than the same period in 2007.“Farmgate prices for a number of commodities have also increased significantly over the last 10 months,” says Mr Doyle.“The six-year average price for wheat to 2007 was just under £70 per tonne and is currently trading at around £160 per tonne, with the futures markets for November 2008 and 2009 standing at £150 and £140 per tonne – lower than recent highs but still good prices.“Oilseed rape is selling at £340 per tonne and the market looks set to remain firm through to next May with futures prices at around £320 per tonne depending on the sterling to euro exchange rate used.“Milk prices have increased to a high of 28.5p litre, with an average producer price of 25.75p in February, some 8p up on the year.“Since the New Year cattle and sheep prices have risen steadily achieving 250p per kg deadweight and 319p in early April.”

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