New regulations to facilitate the transfer of agricultural land announced
Farmers who hold a land lease with other people now have the right to transfer the land to a third party even if there is no consensus between the partners, Economy Minister Silvio Schembri announced on Thursday.
The Minister announced changes to the regulations to address the problems encountered by farmers in recent years.
The concept of owned land in solidum, meaning multiple farmers jointly hold the lease on the same land, was useful decades ago when a piece of land was too big for a single farmer to work on alone, Schembri said. However, this had become inconvenient and created problems on issues related to the transfer or division of land.
Changes to the regulations will now allow an individual to transfer their share of the land even if the other farmers on the lease disagree. Those who disagree must present a valid agriculture-related reason for consideration, with the final decision being made by the Land Authority.
“We will no longer accept excuses from people who don’t sign a transfer for frivolous reasons or because two individuals are rivals,” Schembri said.
Access will also be created for farmers to achieve their share of the in solidum Earth.
A person who wants to leave the in solidum lease will also have the option to do so without dissolving the entire agreement and opponents must present a valid agricultural reason if they wish to block it.
Under the new changes, farmers will now also be able to transfer land on which a building larger than 40 square meters is erected, provided it has planning permission and is strictly used for agricultural purposes. . This was not allowed before.
Building on agricultural land
Tenants who transfer land with a building will be required to enter into a contract with the Land Authority obliging them to use it only for agricultural purposes.
Farmers who lease their land from the government and wish to build agricultural structures on their land will now also be able to do so.
Farmers can submit a planning application for a suitable farm structure, such as a greenhouse or barn, to the planning authority. If approved, the Land Department will in turn recognize the new structure as part of the farmer’s lease.
In cases where a landowner leaves no will, farmland inheritance will now take place under natural law, to allow farm families to continue their work while the administrative issues of inherited land are sorted out.
For farmers who have worked on land in partnership but are not recognized as tenants, the minister said the ministry will recognize them as new tenants if they can prove they have been actively working the land through proper documentation .
Schembri said he had asked the Land Authority to deal with old land transfer applications according to the rules in place at the time, but if the current rules are more favourable, the applications would be processed according to these. .
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