Farm planning regulation developed in support of sustainable management of agricultural land

The Farm Planning Regulation (Regulation) promulgated in terms of the legislative provisions of the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 43 of 1983 (CARA), was first released in draft form on 24 December 2020 for public comment. A slightly revised version was released on 14 May 2021 with a second public commentary period until 14 June 2021.

26 Oct 2021 2 min read Dispute Resolution Article

At a glance

  • The Farm Planning Regulation aims to promote sustainable management of agricultural land and prevent degradation of natural resources.
  • The Regulation applies to government-funded programs, land under direction in terms of CARA, and land subject to degradation. It requires land users to request a farm plan from the local Provincial Agricultural Office for the utilization and conservation of natural agricultural resources.
  • The Regulation specifies the contents of a farm plan, including a map of the farm unit, recommended soil conservation works, and a management program. It also establishes a Farm Plan Register. However, the Regulation lacks a penalty clause, raising questions about its enforceability once gazetted.

The aim of the Regulation is to promote farm planning in support of sustainable management of agricultural land with a view to maintain the production potential of land and to combat or prevent degradation of natural agricultural resources specified in CARA.

The Regulation will be primarily applicable to any land under government-funded programmes, land under direction in terms of section 7 of CARA, and any other land subject to degradation in contravention of the objects of the CARA. The Regulation will also find application for land which is currently and will in future be used for agricultural production, except any land situated in urban areas or land declared to be a mountain catchment area as specified in section 2(1) of CARA read with section 2 of the Mountain Catchment Areas Act 63 of 1947.

The Regulation stipulates that a farm plan shall be requested from a local Provincial Agricultural Office (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development) by the land user in terms of section 10 of CARA for use in connection with the utilisation and conservation of natural agricultural resources.

The Regulation provides in section 7(2) that the farm plan must include:

  • a map of the farm unit which includes the approximate positions of all existing and proposed soil conservation works, as well as all roads, railways lines, watercourses, permanent fountains, boreholes, buildings, other prominent land marks and such other particulars as are deemed necessary for the purposes of CARA or a scheme;
  • a list of the soil conservation works that are recommended for construction on the farm unit concerned, and which have already been constructed, irrespective of whether subsidies were previously paid towards them in terms of any scheme or government programme;
  • a management programme or plan with regard to the utilisation and conservation of the natural agricultural resources on the farm unit concerned, in so far as it relates to the management of the veld and lands of that farm unit; the maximum number of each kind, type or breed of animal that should be kept on that farm unit; the size and composition of the herds that should be kept on that farm unit; and other matters that may be deemed expedient in a particular case.

The executive officer shall maintain a Farm Plan Register of all farm plans generated or amended under the Regulation, which will contain obligatory information relating to each farm unit such as the locality, property description and programme applicable to the farm.

Farmers and other landowners ought to note that the Regulation does not make provision for subsidies to be paid in addition to other schemes or programmes.

The Regulation does not contain a penalty clause to possibly sanction any non-compliance, thus rendering its enforceability questionable once gazetted by the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

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