By: Simon B
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Starting a Farm
Choosing a Location
Choosing the right location for your farm is very important, and there are two main factors to consider. Firstly the type of farming you can do depends on the location. For example, if you want to grow crops you will want a location that receives enough sunlight and if you are hill farming and rearing sheep you do not want a location that is flat.
The other factor to consider when deciding on a location is whether you will have good connections with the towns and cities, especially if you are targeting your business at urban areas. So you need to think carefully about your business and make sure your location suits the agriculture you or practicing or vice versa.
The main advantage of locating in an urban area is that you have access to farmer markets in both urban and suburban areas. This also allows you the freedom of carrying out another job in the city.
Advice from NFU
For the best information and advice on where the best locations are for your type of farming, you should consider joining the National Farmer’s Union (NFU). Their website provides vast information on British farming including detailed information on the appropriate regions for different types of farming.
Types of farming land
Another important factor in choosing the right location for your farm is the type of land that is most suitable for your farming. When assessing your farming properties it is vital to check the different land types. Certain types of farming are only suitable for certain types of land. For example, tillable land is mainly used to grow crops and is easily cultivated. Land that is not cultivated and is more appropriate for pastoral farming is pasture land, which will allow animals to graze.
You should also consider woodland areas and marginal land which consists of poor soil. So when understanding the different types of land and how they will affect your farming, you need to choose a type that will be consistent with your type of farming and overall business plan. It is important to remember that if you base your farm on an area with different types of land rather than cause problems it can produce another source of income.
The water supply is also a crucial factor when deciding upon your location. You need a supply sufficient enough of meeting the needs of your animals or make sure there is enough to grow your crops. You also need to check the area to see if there is potential for flooding as it can have catastrophic repercussions on a farm.
If you feel you have decided on the best location you should take into account any planning policies because there may be planning schemes put in place by local authorities that may limit the future development of your farm.
Registering the Land
To confirm the ownership of your land you need to register it. Once you have registered your land you are then permitted to receive farming subsidy payments as well as helping you to manage your land more efficiently. Registering your land secures your title as the landowner and will clarify your property and ownership of the land in the event of any possible disputes.
There are two types of land registers that you should be aware of, the first being the Rural Land Register. This is a department in the government that records all land and property ownership, boundaries between different owners and all the legalities if there is a change of ownership, which includes records any finances involved with the land such as mortgages and sales.
The other type of register is the Land Registry. It is important to know that they are not connected as the Rural Land Register only registers land that is farmed or at least has some value environmentally to land-based schemes. The Rural Land Register also has different boundary regulations which are important to distinguish.
The Rural Land Register
The Rural Land Register is a database of digital maps which shows the ownership of all the agricultural land in the UK. They also show woodland and marginal land where grants and subsidies are claimed. The Rural Payments Agency runs the register and pays the grants and subsidies, which are awarded based on schemes including the Environmental Stewardship Scheme, the Farm Woodland Scheme and the Single Payment Scheme.
This agency was created in 2001 and is a single paying agency for most of the Common Agricultural Policy Schemes in England as well as recording freehold and leasehold properties where the lease has been approved for at least seven years.
The Rural Land Register carries out numerous functions such as collecting a range of information about the land from the Land Registry, finding information of how the maps were produced (which is different from the land registry) and it also manages the different land boundaries.
The main aim of the Rural Land Register when it was developed was to modernise and simplify land-based schemes using an electronic geographical information system whilst meeting European Union Regulations. For example, if your land is already registered with the Land Registry it still needs to be registered by the Rural Land Registry by you or your agent.
If you own land which you carry out agricultural activities on with the Rural Payments Agency then it must be registered. So if you do not register your land with the Rural Land Register you will not be able to make a claim for the Single Payment Scheme, Environmental Stewardship Schemes or the Woodland Grant Scheme.
You also need to register the land if anything changes with the land you have already registered. However, it is important to know that you can only register the land once on the Rural Land Register if you are a landlord but it is possible to claim under a scheme and the grazier or tenant claim under a different one.
The Land Registry
The Land Registry, established in 1862, was produced to record interests in registered land in England and Wales, and reports to the Ministry of Justice. It is now an executive agency and is officially referred to as Her Majesty’s Land Registry which it is known as under The Land Registration Act of 2002.
It is important you register your land with the Land Registry as it has many benefits. For example, you only have to register your land with the registry once and you will also receive a 25% discount if you are registering your land for the first time. The price of registering depends on the size of your land. For example, if the land is worth £50,000 it may cost around £30 and if it is worth over a million pounds registration will cost around £500.
When registering different parts of land and property it will all be registered in the same place with the Land Registry. Another benefit is that your land will be protected from encroachment i.e. your land will remain untouched and nobody will be permitted to build or expand anything onto it.
It will also help you identify all your property, simplify your title and keep your data on record, which makes management more efficient and easier to handle. This will also make it easier to access details when land is being sold or if someone makes a claim on the property.
If you do not register your land you are likely to run into various problems and grievances. If you lose your ownership deeds or have trouble proving your title you be able to register your land but the process may be more difficult.
It is strongly recommended that you register your land and register it with the Land Registry. It generally gives you greater certainty and security about what you own especially in the case of a dispute. Once it is registered you have the title guaranteed by the state.