The

Agricultural & Rural Affairs

Sector

The agricultural & rural industry...

Agriculture is the practice of farming (which includes growing crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool and other products). 

Agriculture in the UK uses 72% of the country's land area (that's 17.5 million hectares!) and employs 476,000 people. Agriculture's contribution to the national economy is less than 1% and the total income from farming is around £5.3 billion in current price terms - all these figures are taken from the Office of National Statistics for Agriculture in the UK 2019. 

As you can see, agriculture is a big part of the UK so deserves its own legal sector at a law firm! Farmers and stakeholders of agricultural land will need lawyers that understand the agricultural business world and the types of legal issues that can 'crop' up!

What do the lawyers do?!

The following legal issues can arise in agriculture and will therefore make up a typical day in the life of an agricultural lawyer (depending on specific specialism):

  • agriculture finance - owners of agricultural land (whether that's an 'agribusiness' owner or an individual self-employed land owner), can loan money from lenders for a variety of reasons such as:

    • purchasing additional land; ​

    • purchasing livestock; 

    • recovery and restructure in the event of financial pressures faced by farmers; 

    • getting involved in renewable energy projects which offer an additional source of income to farmers and add value to under-utilised farm land; 

    • diversifying land use; 

    • developing, repairing or renovating agricultural property; 

    • transferring farm land to the next generation at an undervalue with the value difference being loaned to the seller; and

    • tenancy right to buy - a tenant farmer may have the right to buy the land and lenders can loan up to the market value of the land to the tenant farmer so that he/she can buy the land. 

  • buying and selling agricultural land; 

  • dealing with any easements, covenants and third party rights that can arise on the rural land owned by the client farmer or in respect of neighbouring land; 

  • equestrian (that's horse riding to you and me) - issues can include tenancy agreements for grazing horses, livery agreements and issues relating to abandoned horses, fly-grazing and related landowner issues

  • farm partnerships and farming agreements; 

  • rural environmental issues; 

  • rural planning issues; 

  • sporting rights;

  • tax planning for agricultural land; and

  • negotiating and advising on agricultural holdings, licences, tenancies (i.e. farm business tenancies), leases and farm dwellings. 

 

Accordingly, practice areas that can fall within this sector include:

Clients in this sector...

Clients will include:

  • farmers

  • landowners

  • farming businesses 

  • farming-related organisations

Example legal cases

SAS Daniels LLP advised a farmer's family following his death on how to distribute the farmhouse and land to ensure everyone had an equal share. The Will of the deceased farmer had not been updated in years and did not reflect either the wishes of the farmer or the requirements of his family. 

Mills & Reeve advised the Wellcome Trust on the £249 million acquisition for the farming business of the Co-operative Group.

Freeths acted on a £12.6 million refinance of farm, dairy unit and farm cottages to include redemption of existing charges over 1,850 acres and four new charges over 650 acres. 

Law firms to consider...