Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signed into law a bill amending a number of Ukrainian legislative acts on the conditions for the turnover of farmland, which the Verkhovna Rada passed on March 31, 2020.
“The document provides for the formation of a legislative framework for introducing market-based turnover of farmland. The law signed by the president will empower citizens to exercise their constitutional rights to freely dispose their property and will provide for transparent terms for acquiring ownership of agricultural plots of land by citizens of Ukraine,” the president’s press service said on Tuesday.
The lifting of the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land is a significant impetus to the development of the economy, farming and the agro-industrial complex.
“The lifting of the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land is a significant impetus for the development of the economy, farming, the agricultural complex in Ukraine,” Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Telegram.
As reported, on the night of March 31, the Verkhovna Rada at an extraordinary meeting adopted a law on opening the land market from July 1, 2021 with the restriction of its work in the first three years only to land plots owned by individuals with a maximum ownership of 100 hectares per capita.
The parliamentary committee for agricultural and land policy is finalizing the provisions that foreigners would not be able to buy land until the decision to allow this is made at a national referendum, Deputy Head of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction, MP Yevheniya Kravchuk has said.. “Today, the meeting of our faction was held with one issue on the agenda – the introduction of the land market. Discussions continue. But not about whether it is needed or not, but about the parameters of the functioning of the market. And that means that we have come very close to the optimal solution that will suit Ukraine most of all. Namely, the committee for agricultural and land policy is finalizing the provisions that foreigners will not be able to buy land until a decision on this is made at a national referendum,” Kravchuk wrote on her official page in the Facebook social network on Monday night.
The MP said that this is about the concentration of no more than 10,000-20,000 hectares of land in the hands of one operator.
“As for the concentration of land in the hands of one operator, the threshold will be significantly reduced. Discussion is about 10,000-20,000 hectares, which is 90% less than what was proposed for first reading,” Kravchuk said.
According to Kravchuk, it is necessary to legislatively limit the possibility of speculation with the resale of land.
“We talked about the need to remove speculation with the resale of land in the first years after the market opened. Special safeguards are introduced for this, because people should not earn from selling land, but from products grown on it,” the MP said.
Agricultural companies operating on the Ukrainian market for over three years would be able to buy farmland which they lease as of the date of the opening of the market, October 1, 2029, Head of the Verkhovna Rada committee for agricultural policy and land relations Mykola Solsky (the Servant of the People parliamentary faction) has said.
“There are more than 1,300 enterprises that have been operating in Ukraine for years, investing in Ukrainian land, infrastructure, creating jobs, and belong, including to foreigners. For this category of legal entities, only those that have been engaged in agricultural business for at least three years in Ukraine, and only for the amount of land that they cultivate at the time the law comes into force, which they have in the contracts,” he said at a briefing in the Verkhovna Rada on Friday.
In the near future, the land committee intends to consider 11 land bills that are registered in the Rada, Solsky said.
According to him, the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture is currently considering the introduction of a limit on government support in the framework of budget support for 2020, estimated at UAH 4.4 billion, at the level of UAH 5 million per person or a group of affiliated persons.
Deputy Minister of Economy, Trade and Agriculture Taras Vysotsky, in turn, noted the need to include all the information about state-owned land in the register of the State Service for Geodesy, Cartography and Cadastre by August 1, 2020.
“By the end of the year, we will enter information on 1 million hectares of state-owned land, and before August we will have to add another 0.5 million hectares. We are in line with the schedule,” Vysotsky said.
He said that it is planned to hold 18 regional forums devoted to the land market.
Agro-Region (Velyka Oleksandrivka, Boryspil region in Kyiv region) plans to buy farmland with the opening of the land market in Ukraine, Agro-Region CEO Kateryna Rybachenko has said. “We, of course, plan to buy land with the opening of the market. The huge problem was that we could not invest in irrigation if the land did not belong to us. If people want to sell the land, we will be the first in line who will offer to buy it,” she told Interfax-Ukraine.
According to Rybachenko, now the company pays an average of $150 rent per hectare.
“We annually invest at least $100 per hectare in new equipment. The plans for the next year, in addition to investing in equipment, are to send funds to buy land if someone has a desire to sell it,” the CEO said.
At the same time, she said that there were no plans to increase the land bank, however, Agro-Region considers it necessary to invest in updating existing assets and ongoing projects.
Agro-Region was founded in 2002. It processes 38,000 hectares in Khmelnytsky, Zhytomyr, Chernihiv and Kyiv regions. The company annually produces 240,000 tonnes of grain and oilseeds. It has two silos in Boryspil and Myropil with a total storage capacity of 150,000 tonnes.
The president’s bill about farmland turnover in Ukraine, which should be published within two weeks, allows legal entities to participate in the land market, acting Minister of Agricultural Policy and Food of Ukraine Olha Trofimtseva has said. “The president’s position regarding legal entities is quite liberal and this is one of the disagreements that exist between us. I believe that certain restrictions, safeguards should be established at the first transitional stage, I advocate a phased opening of the market and, accordingly, its phased liberalization,” she said at a press conference.
According to Trofimtseva, the presidential bill is based on the government’s bill.
“The changes that will be made in it concern legal entities, I think we will see it soon, it will be introduced in the Verkhovna Rada as the president’s bill, but this will be the subject of discussion after the first working day of the Verkhovna Rada, after the formation of the new Cabinet [of Ministers]. This is a question of a week or two,” the acting minister said.
In addition, Trofimtseva said that as part of the land reform, at least six or seven bills will be presented that will be aimed at the normal functioning of the land market.