Dairy farm prices continued to ease in the three months to March, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) said.

The institute said median sales price per hectare for dairy farms fell to $33,897 compared with $36,687 in the three months to February and $37,761 for the three months to March 2015. The median dairy farm size for the three months to March was 121 hectares.

On a price per kg of milksolids basis, the median sale price was $34.79 per kg, down 8.4 per cent in the three months to February, and down 2.9 per cent compared with the same March period a year earlier.

The institute said its Dairy Farm Price index rose by 4.3 per cent in the three months to March, but fell by 15.9 per cent compared with the same year-ago period.

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Across all farms, REINZ said the median price per hectare in the three months to March was $27,202 compared with $27,957 in three months March 2015 - down 2.7 per cent.
REINZ's all farm price index fell by 1.7 per cent compared in the three months against the same year-ago period. The index adjusts for differences in farm size, location and farming type.

The institute's rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said figures for the latest three month period indicated an easing in sales volumes for most categories of rural property, with the exception of horticulture.

"While in general terms the dairy sector is subdued, isolated sales of good quality farms at very good price, do reflect a optimism in the longer term future of the industry," he said in a statement.

In the regions, Northland continued to receive buyer inquiry from areas to the south for dairy farms but limited supply and sales made pricing difficult. There was evidence of banks requiring higher levels of equity from Northland farmers. There had been steady sales of grazing stocks and strong activity in lower value properties suitable for planting manuka for the honey industry in the province.

Further south, there had been limited activity in Hawkes Bay due to a shortage of property. There was conjecture around the proposed Ruitaniwha dam project and the likely impact on land prices should the scheme go ahead.