Understanding the economics of land access in Ireland
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This thesis analyses land availability and mobility in Ireland. The thesis begins with an overview of the economic theory of agricultural land markets followed by a description of Ireland’s current land use structures and barriers to land use change. A farm microsimulation model is then developed which allows one to consider the effect of taxation policy at a farm level. The microsimulation model is used to compare financial returns from a range of agricultural land uses in order to examine the effect of policy instruments on land mobility. The analysis finds that in numerous scenarios, leasing out agricultural land on a long-term basis can prove more profitable than farming the land. Attitudes amongst Irish farmers toward land mobility and openness to various forms of land transaction are also examined. The analysis is based on a nationally representative survey of 846 Irish farmers. The results show that farmer attitudes significantly affect openness to land mobility. Factors such as age, income from farming and the presence of a successor also influence farmers’ willingness to enter the land market. Finally, a discrete choice experiment (DCE) is used to estimate farmers’ preferences for land attributes in rental markets. The land attributes used in the DCE are rental contract, distance of land from farmyard, soil quality, and rental price. When renting in land, leasing is preferred to conacre. Farmers only want to rent land with good soil. Adjacent land and land 5km away is preferred to land 1km away. The higher the rental price, the less preferred the land is. When renting out land, leasing is preferred to conacre. Farmers would prefer to rent out land the further away from the farmyard it is. Farmers would prefer to rent out land with worse soil and would prefer to rent out land at a higher price. The thesis concludes with some recommendations for future research in the area.
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