The weather has certainly not played ball, causing widespread challenges and long delays in harvest being completed. But it’s not only the rain and wind causing the storm.

From a legal perspective we are seeing a lot of change with some important new legislation and regulation over the last 12 months or so.

Some which have been widely discussed in the media include the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament, and the new rules now in force in relation to short-term letting licensing - which are proving a real challenge for many of our clients who have diversified into holiday accommodation on their farms.

There is also the ongoing uncertainty around the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform, which continues to leave many of our clients questioning how to best prepare for the proposals set out in the Agricultural Reform Route Map published in June of this year.

But some important regulations have come in more quietly and many in the rural sector are still unaware of their impact - such as the new rules surrounding the Register of Controlling Interest (RCI).

These impose new obligations on owners of land, and those with associated interests in such land, where there is a discrepancy with the registered title to the land. This legislation is far-reaching and will affect many rural businesses, particularly so where land will often be farmed through partnerships, leases or perhaps contract farming arrangements.

The transitional period for compliance with the new RCI obligations has been extended to 1 April 2024, but thereafter substantial financial penalties for non-compliance can be imposed.

The rural sector is resilient and adaptive and will weather the storm, but it would be nice to have some calm weeks and months with clear skies ahead.

First published in: The Courier, Farm Focused supplement