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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Agricultural purposes: Other uses of land

‘Agriculture’ is not defined in the IHTA84 but there are various statutory definitions to which we can look for guidance (IHTM24220). You need to consider carefully cases where the land is used other than for arable or pastoral farming, including cultivation of a crop for purposes other than as food for human or animal consumption. For example:

  • reeds for thatching. The case of Assessor for Tayside Region v Reedways Ltd [1982, unreported] illustrates the basic requirement of cultivation. The case concerned the cutting of reeds for thatching. The reeds were a natural growth. There was no tilling, sowing or cultivating. All the ratepayers did was cut the reeds down. The absence of any tillage of the soil meant that the reed beds could not be agricultural
  • nurseries growing seeds and plants including seeds to produce flowers as well as food crops such as tomatoes, lettuces and potatoes is agriculture
  • tree nurseries are agricultural
  • the growing of grass for turf was accepted as agricultural for rating purposes in Assessor for Lothian Region v Rolawn Ltd [1990] SLT 433. (This case contains a good review of case law. But you should consult Technical before attempting to deny agricultural relief under this head).
  • occupation by livestock otherwise than to produce food for human consumption, for example, the keeping of birds such as pheasants for sport was held not to be agricultural for the purposes of Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976/S1 in Earl of Normanton v Giles [1980] 1 WLR 28
  • the grazing of land by horses other than those connected with agriculture is not occupation of land for an agricultural purposes - The Executors of the Will of Walter Wheatley Deceased v CIR SpC 149 and Hemens v Whitsbury Farm Ltd [1987] 1AER 430 (a rating valuation case)
  • grazing in connection with a stud farm (IHTM24068) is connected with agriculture
  • fishing and other sporting rights (IHTM24039) are not agricultural
  • Land principally used for purposes other than agricultural, for example a grouse moor, does not qualify for agricultural relief even though there may be occasional agricultural use.
  • Bio-energy crops such as Miscanthus for biomass, or oil seed rape and wheat for biofuels are now being more widely grown and may constitute qualifying uses of land. Caseworkers should seek the advice of Technical if relief is deducted on land used in this way.