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Poultry Sector

As a specialist agricultural law firm, we have been acting for poultry meat and egg producers for over 80 years. We are now regarded as experts in the sector and are well placed to advise producers and landowners across the supply chain on a whole range of matters, from start-up to succession or sale.

With the UK at 75% self-sufficiency in broiler production and the sector benefitting from the consumer’s preference for leaner meat, the prospects look solid. At the same time, some 35 million eggs are eaten every day in the UK. With ambitious retailer targets for free range production we expect movement in the sector to continue.

Below are examples of matters we have advised our poultry sector clients on in the last few years.

Commercial

  • egg supply contracts
  • contracts for the provision of management services
  • breeder rearing agreements
  • poultry litter feedstock contracts
  • joint ventures and share farming

Planning

  • CPO and related disturbance issues affecting poultry sites
  • s106 agreements/unilateral undertakings in relation to poultry developments
  • highway and infrastructure matters
  • rating/de-rating issues

Regulatory and environmental

  • abatement notices
  • environmental permitting variations
  • Environment Agency and Foods Standard Agency prosecutions
  • Trading Standards, RSPCA and HSE investigations
  •  private nuisance claims

Property

  • sale and purchase of sites for poultry production
  • sale and leaseback of poultry sites
  • farm business tenancies and options for lease
  • easements and wayleaves affecting poultry production areas
  • worker accommodation

Dispute resolution

  • contractual claims following non-fulfilment of supply contracts
  • disputes in relation to solar pv and on-farm AD installations on poultry units
  • arbitrating egg production disputes
  • settlement agreements (employment)

In more detail

  • We acted in the sale of an egg production site where multiple individual and corporate landowners were involved.  Employees had to be transferred, as well as part of the laying flock. Overage in relation to future development had to be negotiated and restrictive covenants touching on intensive production had to be dealt with.
  • A poultry meat producer instructed us to act for him in the implementation of a joint venture relating to an on-farm anaerobic digestion plant. We were involved in drafting the feedstock supply and offtake contracts and drawing up the lease to the joint venture.
  • Instructed by a major poultry producer, we completed a time-sensitive sale of seven farms consisting of more than 40 large poultry sheds and 11 residential properties, on time and on budget. The transaction needed specialist knowledge of environmental permitting, TUPE and agricultural worker housing.
  • One of our litigation partners acted for a poultry and pork meat producer in its challenge to a Food Standards Agency decision that de-sinewed meat should be classified as mechanically separated meat. The long-running case involved a preliminary ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union.
  • Members of our property and taxation teams advised a landowner in relation to a long-term joint venture with a specialist broiler producer, involving the setting up of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) backed by a shareholders’ agreement, coupled with an option for lease to the SPV and an agreement on the provision of residential accommodation. Our instructions included the provision of advice on the tax implications of the venture.
  • Working for the tenant on the grant of a farm business tenancy of an intensive poultry rearing unit, we were required to deal with matters arising from the Heads of Terms, which included the landlord securing satisfactory planning consents for the site and ancillary works; landlord’s construction of sheds and associated works in conformity with tenant’s spec; an option to renew after an initial fixed term period; the repairing and insuring liability in relation to the sheds (and associated PV and biomass installations), and the provision of agricultural worker accommodation on site.
  • When instructed to advise on an egg supply contract, sector-specific provisions were included to cover Animal and Plant Health Agency registration, Freedom Foods accreditation, lion mark stamping, use of approved feedstuff suppliers, liability for product recalls, force majeure (e.g. due to official restrictions imposed as a result of avian influenza outbreaks), provision of flock veterinary reports to the purchaser and price variations based on feed costs.
  • We were instructed by landowners in relation to proposed agreements for lease which incorporate an obligation for the landowner to obtain planning permission and to build out free range egg production units. Farm business tenancies were subsequently granted by the landowner to the free range egg producer, with the rent reflecting an agreed return on capital.

 

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