Access To Land

Spanish Ministry of Agriculture publishes report on access to land

In early 2020 the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture started to investigate the question of access to land. They invited experts from a wide range of sectors to participate in a focus group to discuss the challenges of access to land and to explore possible solutions. The group was composed of 30 experts including stakeholders from various ministries, from municipalities and provinces, rural development organisations, researchers, financial institutions as well as civil society.

A summary report was published by the Ministry in 2021, outlinings key findings and highlighting aspects that can have a positive or negative impact:

  • Land transfer policies and land use planning
  • Agricultural policies: CAP and regulations in Spain
  • Training and access to the agricultural profession
  • Access to land initiatives
  • Financing and taxes
  • Access to data

The report identifies and describes the main obstacles associated with access to land: the availability and affordability of land, purchase and lease price, the distrust of the owners to an unknown buyer or tenant, onerous and complex processes, tax implications, the excessive initial disbursement required, lack of knowledge and advice on farming models, business or productive orientations, a system of CAP payments coupled to the land, ignorance about which lands are available, lack of connection between the retiring farmer and the new entrant, etc.

The report also develops policy proposals for regulatory or legal framework changes, amongst others:

  • The National Strategic Plan of the CAP post-2020 should be used to adequately define the concept of genuine farmer and forester, adjust aid for young farmers, encourage investment for land purchase, promote access to resources beyond land, encourage early cessation and prevent the improper marketing of basic payment rights.
  • Within the framework of Law 19/1995 of 4 July, on the Modernization of Agricultural Holdings, the definition of “professional farmer” and the determination of “priority agricultural holding” should be adjusted, certain taxation issues should be modified, and the scope of the law should include the forestry sector.
  • Incentives for a shared ownership should be increased and this mechanism should be further fostered and disseminated, in line with Law 35/2011, of 4 October, on Shared Ownership of Agricultural Holdings.
  • Law 49/2003, of 26 November, on Rural Leases, should be amended in order to properly require contracts to be materialized in writing, the minimum duration should be extended, long-term leases should be encouraged as should leases with option to purchase , taxes related to the transfer should be reduced and protection measures for both parties established.
  • Implement de facto the territorial exploitation contracts, contemplated in Royal Decree 1336/2011 of 3 October.

The report then points to measures that need to be taken beyond the legal framework, such as those relating to the generational access to information or training.

Xarxa per la Conservació de la Natura (XCN), a member of the Access to Land Network and a stakeholder in the process initiated by the Spanish ministry of Agriculture, has welcomed the report: “we value the effort that has gone into this report and we look forward to deepening our mutual understanding to better articulate the different tasks we have on the table in terms of access to land and rural development. However, the report lacks a clear commitment to the transition to more sustainable food systems. Special attention should be paid to solving the specific difficulties of access to land for those farming projects with more socio-environmental value. We believe that land access policies must be consistent with current socio-environmental challenges and with the need to devise a food production model with environmental commitments and with social justice at its heart. To achieve this, public administration must encourage access to land especially for those activities that are embedded in the local socio-economic context, generate varied and context-appropriate foods, use short supply chains, actively minimize environmental impacts (reducing inputs, encouraging heterogeneity habitats, etc.). In short, promote access to land for agroecology”.

The full report in Spanish is available online.


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