by Manon Tomos
Six members of the Agri Advisor team, including myself, attended the CEDR (European Council for Rural Law) Congress 2017 in Lille, France, last month to have the invaluable opportunity, both personally and professionally, to learn about rural law in various other nations as well as to celebrate CEDR’s 60th anniversary.
The Congress is traditionally split into three Commissions with various aspects of the chosen theme being discussed in each Commission.
Commission one looked at competition rules in agriculture. This provided a very technical look at the legislation behind competition in agriculture as well as the overarching rules which we all need to consider, for example under the World Trade Organisation.
Commission two considered agricultural competitiveness, focussing on what drivers and obstacles each nation had within its legal framework. The main barriers and drivers in agriculture which emerged in the various papers were similar issues to those which we face regularly here, for example taxation, planning law, fragmentation of land and land tenure. It was extremely interesting to hear about the agricultural economy in the various nations and how demand for land is changing, with the acreage required to be considered a viable holding increasing rapidly.
Commission three had a wide remit with each country reporting on the developments in rural law since the last congress in 2015. Recurring themes however were evident, the principal being concerns over succession in farming and access for new entrants. Several European Union countries have adopted what could be described as radical policies to intervene in the availability, most striking perhaps was Poland where land transactions are restricted to those who can demonstrate five years of farming in an area before a purchase of land is allowed. Other EU countries also reported policies to limit the purchase of farm land by those deemed as institutional investors as opposed to active farmers.
Of course, it would have been impossible to attend such a conference without the topic of Brexit being raised, and it was certainly interesting to note that countries who remain within the EU raised concerns with regard to their subsidy payments under the Common Agricultural Policy following the departure of Great Britain from the EU due to the budgetary boost that Great Britain provides.
The papers were extremely interesting, and provided a great insight into the different legal system of each nation. We are looking forward to applying what we learnt during our time in Lille to our work in the future.