Access To Land

Policy Environment

If new farmers has to face the trend toward more bureaucratization in the governance structure, in Germany, they find support in policy, important subsidies, and security use right for farming activities.

Governance structure

In Germany, competence for legislation and administration of the agricultural and food sector is divided between national (Bund), federal (Länder), rural district (Landkreis) and municipality (Gemeinde) levels. On the national level, the ministry of agriculture, nutrition and consumer protection (BMELV) sets the main rules regarding land and property rights. It is now partly complemented by rules adopted at EU level.

Concrete definitions and details regarding land property rights are mainly arranged in a decentralised way through spatial planning (Raumplanung) (Bahner 2012), which can explain regional differences. In federal states, regional and rural development is located within the same ministry. The federal states are responsible for the implementation and shaping of the national guidelines, e.g. fixing tax levels on purchase of real estate.

Further down is the agricultural administration at regional level (Ministry of Rural Areas and Consumers), sub-regional level (the regional council) and the district offices. These levels designate use rights and land use planning (Bahner 2012). Additional regional offices have specific tasks related to information, advice, education and research.

Overall, there is a trend towards continuous bureaucratisation of administration which also means increasing controlling. This includes laws for nature protection which can have quite far reaching consequences (through designation of land) on property prices.

The CAP lifeline

Subsidies play a very important role in German agricultural policy. The subsidies received by German farmers depend on their land size, with a payment of 340 €/ha. Half of all farmers, in small holdings receive in average 1.600 € per enterprise/year, . The largest 1,5% of the recipients receive 283.000 € per enterprise/year, i.e. almost 30% of the complete subsidies. These are not farmers but huge agricultural and processing industries.

Germany has not developed a strong policy for supporting young farmers entry into farming. Out of the 4 billion € available under Measure 112 (CAP 2007-13) for assisting new young farmers start-up, Germany only €4,8 million, the lowest number (Löffler and Peter 2011).

Tenant farmers’ rights

The German civil code reglements tenancy agreements. The tenant cannot be discharge easily and has quite a safe and long-term use right for farming activities.

There are no specific regulations regarding the fixing of land tenancy prices. However, the Land Lease transactions Act obliges the parties to register the lease and includes the power of veto for the public authorities in charge (Landwirtschaftsbehörde) if the land is leased to a non-farmer.

A detailed analysis of the regulations and policies applying to the land sale and rent market in Germany can be found in:
Bahner, T., Diermayr, X., Schmid, T., Schwedeler, A., Zaiser, M., Zaiser, I. (2012): Releasing the True value of land: the land market and new forms of land ownernship for organic agriculture, International Biodynamic Association.

See also: Löffler, T. and Peter, S. (2011): National literature review: Ageing of the farming population and the role of young farmers – Germany (unpublished).

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