FARMLAND values are expected to rise by 5.5 per cent over the next five years, according to a leading farm agency.

Andrew Black, from Savills farm agency team in the North, said values are currently widening – ranging from below £7,000 an acre to more than £12,000 an acre at the top end.

"Appeal is very much determined by location, location, location rather than quality in many cases," he said.

"Looking ahead, we anticipate average farmland values to soften slightly in 2017 and 2018, but we expect to see a 5.5 per cent increase over the next five years. This is down to a number of factors including a restricted supply of farmland and a widening gap between prime and poor land.

"We also anticipate an increased number of debt related sales and retirement sales over the period leading up to 2021."

He and colleague Will Douglas were addressing two well attended breakfast seminars the company recently held in Penrith and Hexham.

They reported that the total value of Great British farmland and woodland had increased by 149 per cent over the past ten years – as such, there we not many other assets that would have performed so well over the same period.

For the first time, Savills Research team has put a value on all of Great Britain’s farmland and woodland.

Taking into account land grades and use, as well as including a discount to vacant possession value for tenanted farmland, the 39.8 million acres are currently worth £185.7 billion.

In the North of England, the 6.4 million acres have a combined value of £33.6 billion, which has increased by 134per cent over the past ten years.

Duncan Winspear, Savills head of food and farming for the North of England, opened the events by providing an update on agriculture, a brief outlook on the UK markets and highlighting a number of grants currently available to farmers.

Tom Richardson, an independent consultant, shared his experiences of buying on behalf of supermarkets and the changing expectations that customers have for their food. He then gave insight into the future of retail and how the way in which people buy food is evolving.

Andrew Sims, from accountants Dodd & Co, then gave an overview on the importance of succession planning in any business and in particular agriculture, where it has too often been left later than would be beneficial.

The seminars were concluded by Charles Baker and Michael Orde of the estate management team before questions were opened up to the floor.

Michael Orde, director at Savills and head of the Corbridge Office, said: "It was particularly pleasing to see that the thought-provoking talks prompted some lively and interesting debate from the floor.

"With the next few years presenting many uncertainties for farming businesses, the fundamentals of good business management remain more important than ever. We were delighted to host events that gave the opportunity for farmers, landowners and professionals to share their opinions."