Northern Irish agriculture is typified by small owner-occupied family grassland farms, many dairy as well as beef and sheep. It also has a quarter of the UK’s pig population and specialist poultry enterprises, but the purely arable and fruit sectors are small.
While the underlying land law is close to that of England and Wales, the tenanted sector was dismantled over a century ago with the practical effect that some 30 per cent of land is let each year on conacre, now essentially a seasonal grazing arrangement. Now having no specifically agricultural tenancy legislation, owners and farmers are free to agree tenancies on their own terms supporting longer term management of the land.
The CAAV in Northern Ireland
The Northern Irish Rural Valuers Association (NIRVA) was founded in 2012 and affiliated to the CAAV in 2015. Both organisations have since grown in membership and activity in the Province, engaging with the Northern Irish Government and other professional and farming bodies, including the Ulster Farmers Union and Land Mobility.
NIRVA’s senior officers form the CAAV’s Northern Ireland Committee, considering responses to consultations from the Northern Irish Government and issues for members in the Province. The Committee’s chairman is automatically a member of the CAAV’s Council, reporting to each meeting on Northern Irish matters.
The Chairman and Secretary of the CAAV Northern Ireland Committee are:
- Chairman: Tim Martin
- Secretary: Mary-Lou Press
The CAAV’s work in Northern Ireland has included attention to the introduction of the Basic Payment and Environmental Farming Schemes as well as promoting informed public discussion of the revival of agricultural tenancies.
The CAAV secured a statement from HMRC that letting farmland in Northern Ireland would not disqualify it from Agricultural Property Relief (APR) from Inheritance Tax.
A briefing conference for CAAV and NIRVA members is held every April to cover topical and developing issues, with other conferences held as needed.
As the Northern Irish Government makes proposals for legislation on matters from agricultural policies to planning law, so the Northern Ireland Committee considers them and the CAAV Secretariat briefs members on the website and through the Northern Irish sections of the News Letter and the Handbook.
With discussion of agricultural land tenure issues driven by both the change in approach to conacre for the Basic Payment Scheme and the consideration of agricultural tenancies, the CAAV published Tenancies, Conacre and Licences: Arrangements for Occupying Agricultural Land in Northern Ireland.
Thinking of Tenancies, a summary leaflet on the land tenure, taxation and other issues for agricultural tenancies is available here.
Good practice for compulsory purchase in Northern Ireland is considered in the CAAV’s publication, Good Practice in Statutory Compensation Claims.
Development control for rural housing is covered in the CAAV publication, Rural Workers’ Dwellings – Planning Control in the United Kingdom.