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Agricultural law is an important branch of jurisprudence, and is an emergent field of specialization for aspiring lawyers/attorneys. How does law influence agriculture? As agriculture has become complicated over centuries, so has the activity of law-making and enforcement around it. Agricultural legislation nowadays embraces a number of divergent topics, all of which are nevertheless connected with the world of farming. It is interesting to learn how legislation has evolved and how agrarian law actually overlaps with many other areas of law such as environment protection and rural development. Around the world, agricultural law differs with respect to how it has developed down the ages, keeping in mind the local practices, customs and prevailing natural conditions, as also the fancies and idiosyncracies of lawmakers. A moot point that can be raised is whether law can be used as an instrument to correct the inadequacies of the agrarian world.

Agricultural law by and large relates to the following:-

  • land tenures and ownership
  • water and soil
  • inputs like seeds, fertilizer and pesticide
  • labour law
  • livestock and fisheries
  • trade & marketing
  • agricultural finance and insurance
  • social and state versus commercial sectors
  • biotechnology

         It will be expedient to explain briefly how each of these above-stated topics are affected by law.

Land Ownership and Tenure 

Land is the basis of all agriculture and the most primary factor of production, whether in crop-production, fisheries or livestock rearing. How land laws are framed and implemented is of paramount importance in agriculture. A variety of scenarios add to the complexity of the situation. There are landowners, tenants, lessees and sharecroppers. The inter-relationships between them have to be regulated, lest anyone be deprived of justice. Land is also required for non agricultural uses and government policies backed by law have to ensure a fair and equitable arrangement.

Soil and Water

Soil conservation and Water management are critical resources which need intervention by the lawto prevent their misuse. Here is a classical case of overlapping of two sets of laws relating to environment protection and conservation on the one hand and that of agriculture on the other.


Agricultural inputs can be categorized as those required for crop-cultivation(fertilizers, pesticides, seeds etc) and also for livestock management as well as fisheries. Law can play a constructive role in deciding the quality and desirability of the ingredients, manufacturing processes,  the manner and method of usage as well as environmental considerations. 


Manpower requirements are not the same in agriculture as it is for industry and others. Natural conditions like weather and season and working schedules can get erratic and unpredictable. So law has a dual role to play in a scenario such as this. It has to ensure welfare and safety of workers without being obstructionist towards employers.

Livestock and Fisheries

 Animal farming is as much a hazard as plant based agriculture. Livestock has to be protected from diseases and injuries, animal rights have to be respected. Large-scale pollution of marine or inland waters can damage fishing grounds. Feed for livestock has to be controlled for quality. There are specific laws governing such matters.

Trade and Marketing

Trade and commerce in agricultural produce is an important domain for legal relationships. Quite often disputes and disagreements can arise over mercantile transactions with regard to price, quality, variety, quantity, type of trade such as futures/forward or current, mode and manner of payments etc. Laws need to be unambiguous in order to ascertain the rights and obligations of parties.

Agricultural Finance and Insurance

Finance is the life blood of agriculture and its significance can hardly be underestimated. Laws can be framed for regulating credit and how it is to be serviced. Insurance of crops and animals is under applicable law.

State and Social sector versus Commercial sector

One of the prime concerns of agriculture is whether it should be commercialized or not. The state as well as the social sector(such as cooperatives) need to be involved in agriculture. This however can be a matter of policy rather than law. Laws for the formation of cooperative societies are needed. Whereas open trade and commerce is likely to benefit the farmers it cannot be left unregulated.


Biotechnology is a very recent development and has engineered a revolution. It has harnessed processes at the cellular and bio-molecular levels to meet the pressing challenges that confront mankind. In agriculture, techniques have been used to alter the genetic make-up of plants and animals  to enhance their productivity and resistance to debilitating diseases and make them more sustainable and environment conducive. There are people however who have not embraced this technology with open arms and harbor sincere doubts about its utility and effectiveness. These issues can be addressed in the coming years through strong regulatory mechanisms which will have to be backed up by  technical studies.

References and Acknowledgements:


2. USDA(United States Dept of Agriculture) website



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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.