Close this search box.

Legal aid and legislation

Agricultural activity takes place within a wider social, environmental and economic context, and so any attempt at compiling a list of the laws which affect agriculture necessarily goes beyond the laws administered by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). The reader will find two lists of legislation: one of laws pertaining immediately to agriculture, and a second list of other legislation. The latter could be more exhaustive, but at the expense of its helpfulness.

Several websites will be of assistance to the reader, like, and Information can also be found on related / relevant websites e.g. to find out more about the Meat Safety Act, visit the website of the Red Meat Abattoir Association –; if you are looking for information about the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), visit etc.

All bills and their current status are available at, website of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, and under the legislation option at (Agbiz website).

In no way is this page meant to take the place of professional legal aid, and you are encouraged to consult a qualified practitioner should you be requiring legal expertise.

Laws pertaining immediately to agriculture

Find “Legislation and legal procedures” under the “Resource Centre” option at

  • Agricultural Laws Extension Act, 1996 (Act 87 of 1996)
  • Agricultural Laws Nationalisation Act, 1998 (Act 72 of 1998)
  • Agricultural Pests Act, 1983 (Act 36 of 1983) introduces measures for the prevention and combating of agricultural pests.
  • Agricultural Produce Agents Act, 1992 (Act 12 of 1992) provides for the establishment of an Agricultural Produce Agents Council (APAC) and fidelity funds. There is currently an amendment bill affecting this.
  • Agricultural Product Standards Act, 1990 (Act 119 of 1990) provides for control over the sale and export of certain agricultural products and other related products, with a view to the maintenance of certain standards regarding the quality of products and packing, marking and labelling.
  • Agricultural Research Act, 1990 (Act 86 of 1990) establishes the Agricultural Research Council (ARC)
  • Animal Diseases Act, 1984 (Act 35 of 1984) – repealed by Animal Health Act, 2002
  • Animal Health Act, 2002 (Act of 2002) provides measures to promote animal health and control animal diseases. It assigns executive authority with regard to certain provisions of the Act to provinces, regulates the importation and exportation of animals, establishes animal health schemes, and provides for connected matters.
  • Animal Identification Act, 2002 (Act 6 of 2002), regarded as “the first line of defence against livestock theft”, deals with the compulsory marking of livestock.
  • Animal Improvement Act, 1988 (Act 62 of 1988) provides for the breeding, identification and utilisation of genetically superior animals in order to improve the production and performance of animals in the interest of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith.
  • Animals Protection Act, 1962 (Act 71 of 1962) consolidates and amends the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals.
  • Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 1983 (Act 43 of 1983) (CARA) provides for control over the use of natural agricultural resources to promote the conservation of soil, water sources and vegetation, and the combating of weeds and invader plants.
  • Fencing Act, 1963 (Act 31 of 1963) consolidates the laws relating to fences and the fencing of farms and other holdings.
  • Fertilizer, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act, 1947 (Act 36 of 1947) regulates the registration of fertilisers, stock feeds, agricultural remedies, stock remedies, sterilising plants and pest control operators, and provides for control over the acquisition, disposal, sale and use of fertilisers, farm feeds, agricultural remedies and stock remedies.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms Act, 1997 (Act 15 of 1997) provides for the regulation of GMO activities in South Africa.
  • Groot Constantia Trust Act, 1993 (Act 38 of 1993)
  • Kwa-Zulu Cane Growers Association Act: Repeal Act, 2002 (Act 24 of 2002)
  • Liquor Products Act, 1989 (Act 60 of 1989) provides for the sale and production of certain liquor products, including their import and export.
  • Livestock Improvement Act (Act 25 Of 1977) – see Animal Improvement Act, 1998
  • Marine Living Resources Act, 1998 (Act 18 of 1998) provides for the conservation of the marine ecosystem, the long-term sustainable use of marine living resources and the orderly access to exploitation, use and protection of certain marine living resources; and for the exercising of control over marine living resources in a fair and equitable manner for the benefit of all the citizens of South Africa. An amendment (2016) recognises small scale fishing as a sector.
  • Marketing of Agricultural Products Act, 1996 (Act 47 of 1996) authorised the establishment of regulatory measures to intervene in the marketing of agricultural products, including the introduction of levies on agricultural products; and to establish the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC).
  • Meat Safety Act, 2000 (Act 40 of 2000) – replaces the Abattoir Hygiene Act (Act 121 of 1992). It provides for measures to promote meat safety and the safety of animal products; establish and maintain essential national standards in respect of abattoirs; regulate the import and export of meat and establish meat safety schemes.
  • National Fire Danger Rating System as per the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, 1998 (Act 101 of 1998)
  • National Forest Act, 1998 (Act 84 of 1998) allows for an exemption for the use and handling of protected trees and their products; and authorises the Minister to establish a trust, in respect of state forests under certain circumstances.
  • National Veld and Forest Fire Act, 1998 (Act 101 of 1998) reforms the law on veld and forest fires and repeals certain provisions of the Forest Act, 1984 (Act 122 of 1984).
  • Onderstepoort Biological Products Incorporation Act, 1999 (Act 19 of 1999)
  • Performing Animals Protection Act, 1935 (Act 24 of 1935) regulates the exhibition and training of performing animals and the use of dogs for safeguarding. There is a Performing Animals Protection Amendment Act 4 of 2016.
  • Perishable Products Export Control, 1983 (Act 9 of 1983) provides for the control of perishable products intended for export from South Africa and for the continued existence of a statutory board to bring about the orderly and efficient export of perishable products from the country.
  • Plant Breeder’s Act, 2018 (Act 12 of 2018) aims to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights relevant to new plant varieties, which in turn positively impacts on the competitiveness of South Africa’s agricultural sector. An amendment bill is in the pipeline.
  • Plant Improvement Act, 2018 (Act 11 of 2018) provides for the registration of establishments where plants and propagation material are sold and packed, for the introduction of schemes for the certification of certain propagation material, for the requirements to which plants and propagation material sold for the purposes of cultivation must conform and for quality control over plants and propagation material imported or exported.
  • Sea Fishery Act, 1988 (Act 12 of 1988) provides for the conservation of the marine ecosystem and the orderly exploitation, use and protection of certain marine resources; and provides for the exercise of control over sea fisheries.
  • Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1993 (Act 169 of 1993) provides for the control over SPCAs (by the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
  • Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act, 1970 (Act 70 of 1970) regulates the subdivision of agricultural land and its use for purposes other than agriculture. Investigations are conducted by the provincial department in support of the execution of the Act.
  • Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Act,1982 (Act 19 of 1982) provides for the establishment, powers and functions of the South African Veterinary Council; the registration of people practising veterinary and para-veterinary professions and control of the practising of veterinary and para-veterinary professions, and was amended in 2012.

Find copies of the legislation at

Some other laws which affect agriculture

Agrarian reform

See also the “Labour, staff and education” subheading

  • Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, 2003 (Act 53 of 2003) amended by Act 46 of 2013
  • Communal Land Rights Act, 2004 (Act 11 of 2004 ) (CLaRA) – struck down by Constitutional Court in 2010
  • Communal Property Associations Act, 1996 (Act 28 of 1996)
  • Development Facilitation Act, 1995 (Act 67 of 1995)
  • Distribution And Transfer Of Certain State Land Act, 1993 (Act 119 of 1993)
  • Interim Protection Of Informal Land Rights Act, 1996 (Act 31 of 1996)
  • Land Administration Act, 1995 (Act 2 of 1995)
  • Land Reform Labour Tenants Act, 1996 (Act 3 of 1996) (LTA)
  • Land Titles Adjustment, 1993 (Act 111 of 1993)
  • Upgrading Of Land Tenure Rights Act, 1991 (Act 112 of 1991)
  • Property Valuation Act, 2014 (Act 17 of 2014)
  • Provision Of Land And Assistance Act, 1993 (Act 126 of 1993), amended by Act 58 of 2008
  • Restitution Of Land Rights Act, 1994 (Act 22 of 1994). An Amendment Act 15 of 2014 was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in July 2016.
  • Rural Development and Land Reform General Amendment Act, 2011 (4 of 2011)
  • State Land Disposal Act, 1961 (Act 48 of 1961)
  • Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 2013 (Act 16 of 2013) (SPLUMA)
  • Transformation Of Certain Rural Areas Act, 1998 (Act 94 of 1998)


Crops and livestock

  • Animal Matters Amendment Act, 1993 (Act 42 of 1993)
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
  • Medicines And Related Substances Act, 1965 (Act 101 of 1965)
  • Stock Theft Act, 1959 (Act 57 of 1959)
  • Sugar Act, 1978 (Act 9 of 1978)
  • The Sugar Beverages Levy falls under the Rates and Monetary Amounts and Revenue Laws Amendment Bill 2017.



The Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act 57 of 2002) and the National Disaster Risk-Management Framework of 2005 address agricultural risk management and climate change, and are supplemented by climate change-related policies and programmes.



See “Environmental legislation” page.

  • National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act 39 of 2004)
  • Carbon Tax


Financial, tax and property

  • Administration of Estates Act, 1965 (Act 66 of 1965)
  • Companies Act, 2008 (Act 71 of 2008)
  • Co-operatives Act, 2005 (Act 14 of 2005), amended by Co-operatives Amendment Act, 2013 (Act 6 of 2013)
  • Co-operative Banks Act, 2007 (Act 40 of 2007)
  • Deeds Registries Act, 1937 (Act 47 of 1937), amended in 1957, 1993, and another Amendment Bill is in the pipeline
  • Employment Tax Incentive Act, 2013 (Act 26 of 2013)
  • Estate Duty Act, 1955 (Act 45 of 1955), amended many times
  • Income Tax Act, 1962 (Act 58 of 1962), amended by Act 18 of 2009
  • Land And Agricultural Development Bank Act, 2002 (Act 15 of 2002)
  • Land Survey Act, 1997 (Act 8 of 1997)
  • Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Act, 2004 (Act 6 of 2004), the “land tax”, amended by Act 29 of 2014
  • Mineral And Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act 28 of 2002), amended by Act 11 of 2005.
  • National Small Business Act, 1996 (Act 102 of 1996), amended by Act 26 of 2003
  • Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, 1998 (Act 19 of 1998)
  • South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act 84 of 1996)




Labour, staff and education

  • Adult Basic Education and Training Act, 2000 (Act 52 of 2000) (ABET)
  • Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 (Act 75 of 1997)
  • Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993 (Act 130 of 1993) and amended by Act 61 of 1997
  • Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act 55 of 1998)
  • Extension of Security of Tenure Act, 1997 (Act 62 of 1997) (ESTA)
  • Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act 66 of 1995) (LRA)
  • Labour Relations Amendment Act, 2014 (Act 6 of 2014) (LRAA)
  • Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act, 1991 (Act 112 of 1991)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act 85 of 1993), amended by Act 181 of 1993
  • Sectoral Termination 13: Farm Worker Sector – see Basic Conditions of Employment Act
  • Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act 97 of 1998)
  • Workmen’s Compensation – see Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act
  • Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)


Marketing and exporting

  • Competition Act, 1998 (Act 89 of 1998)
  • Consumer Protection Act, 2008 (Act 68 of 2008)
  • Customs And Excise Act, 1964 (Act 91 of 1964)
  • Foodstuffs, Cosmetics And Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act 54 of 1972) – includes the Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs regulation changes
  • Health Act, 1977 (Act 63 of 1977)
  • Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Act, 2013 (Act 28 of 2013)
  • International Trade Administration Act, 2002 (Act 71 of 2002)
  • Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) – to be repealed
  • Rates and Monetary Amounts and Revenue Law, 2016 (Act 14 of 2016), amended 2017 (“sugar tax bill”)
  • Wine And Spirit Control Act, 1970 (Act 47 of 1970)

Note also that there are various provincial ordinances.

Should you wish to check up on the status of a bill, visit on the website of Agbiz, or, website of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group.

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Refer to the “Labour and agriculture” page for details of companies which do health and safety training, and stock safety clothing and equipment.

It is important for farmers to maintain certain standards with regard to labour regulations – not only to protect farm workers, but also themselves.

  • Where the risk cannot be removed, it certainly can be minimised.
  • The Department of Employment and Labour’s Inspection and the Enforcement Services Unit check that farms comply with National Minimum Wage Act, General Safety Regulations, Driven Machinery Regulations, Electrical Installation Regulations, Facilities Regulations and Environmental Regulations for the workplace.
  • Occupational safety and the use of child labour on farms are very much the focus of the labour world, not only in South Africa but also internationally through the International Labour Organisation. Farmers should take particular care in this regard.

Health and safety issues in the South African agricultural sector are becoming increasingly important, following an international trend that focuses on this field. The health and safety of workers is also important in terms of compliance with labour law and for the prevention of occupational injuries.


Measures to improve health and safety on site include enforcing workers to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), for example:

  • hard hats to be worn by all persons within 10 m of areas where lifting or hoisting equipment is being used, or where head injury is possible;
  • protective gloves to be worn by all persons engaging in handling of heavy or sharp edged materials, welding or gas cutting activities, and handling of corrosive chemicals;
  • safety boots to be worn by all persons in the active working area; and
  • safety goggles to be worn when operating equipment under dusty conditions, when cutting, welding or grinding, and when handling hazardous chemicals.


Effective use of signage also contributes to compliance with health and safety standards and should be easily visible to all active working areas. Signage should be diagrammatic in nature, so that its meaning is easily understood by people of different education levels / home languages. Signs can be used for a number of different purposes, such as:

  • to designate specific areas for specific uses e.g. chemical storage area, vehicle parking area, fire escape routes;
  • to indicate requirements of specific areas e.g. hard hats / gloves / goggles required;
  • to indicate danger e.g. presence of corrosive materials, overhead danger or slippery surfaces; and
  • to indicate restrictions e.g. no smoking, no use of cell phones, no eating or drinking.


Effective health and safety on site also requires the designation of responsible persons for a specific task, e.g. fire marshal in charge of a fire evacuation exercise. In this way, management of specific events can be controlled more efficiently.

How to handle unlawful occupation of land

Agri SA compiled an information document on how to deal with unlawful occupation of land.

A clear distinction must be made between unlawful access to property and “squatting” in the normal course of events on the one hand and a sudden and orchestrated invasion of property by people on the other hand. In the case of a sudden and orchestrated occupation of property, swift and determined action must be taken against the people concerned. This will require the participation of all role players.

When the police are informed of a large-scale land invasion, it is important that action be taken as soon as possible. Land invasions are usually accompanied by violent occupation of land.

If this happens, the owner could obtain an urgent eviction order in terms of Prevention of Illegal Eviction and the Unlawful Occupation of Land of 1998. The SA Police Services (SAPS) SAPS must investigate the incident to ascertain whether any offences had been committed.

In all cases where land invasions are policed, a detailed record must be kept for evidence purposes.

The following procedures were cleared with the police at national level for action taken by land owners or persons authorised to act on behalf of the owner: Any action that is indicative of unlawful occupation of farms must immediately be reported by the land owner or his/her authorised representative to the local police and a complaint of trespassing must be lodged in terms of section 1 of the Trespass Act (Act No. 6 of 1959). If the land owner has any information or has received any threats which are indicative of a farm invasion, this must also be reported to the local police without delay.

If a period of time had already elapsed before such occupation was noticed, the land owner or his representative must apply to the court for an eviction order in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation Act (Act No. 19 of 1998) and the incident must also be reported to the nearest police station.

The following operational procedures are also in place and organised agriculture’s representatives in the local joints priority committee must become involved in the execution thereof:

  • The provincial joints will task the local joints to immediately arrest trespassers on farms and smallholdings in accordance with the statutory procedures as set out herein;
  • If an eviction order is obtained and the occupiers continue to live on the farm in contravention of such court order, the police may assist the sheriff in removing such occupiers in terms of a court order;
  • The ground level joints must provide all role players immediately with information relating to unlawful farm occupations; and
  •  The police will also communicate with the land owners regarding the procedure as needed.

Intelligence will, on a weekly basis, monitor the climate which could lead to unlawful farm occupation and will observe the groups that could become involved in orchestrating such actions.

Land owners should take the following action:

  • Report all unlawful land occupations immediately to the local police station and provide them with all relevant information regarding the occupation;
  • Report the confirmed land occupation to your provincial agricultural union;
  • If the local police fails to respond to a complaint regarding unlawful occupation, the matter must immediately be reported to the provincial agricultural union, which will then have to deal further with the complaint;
  • If reaction at provincial level is not satisfactory, the land occupation complaint, as well as the failure of the police to respond, must be reported fully and in writing to Agri SA, which will then raise the matter with the national joints priority committee.

Legal aid for farmers

(Find contact details below)

  • Agri SA Contact details of provincial affiliates are given on the “Organised agriculture” page. Your provincial farmers’ union will have details of accredited labour consultants.
  • Andre Bloem Agri Labour Practitioners
  • Cape Agri Employers’ Organisation
  • Confederation of Employers in South Africa (Cofesa)
  • Labour Amplified
  • LWO Employers Organisation The LWO also conducts short courses for the agricultural employer.
  • National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA)
  • Sakeliga
  • Small Enterprises Employers of South Africa (SEESA) Branches across South Africa
  • Southern Africa Agricultural Initiative (Saai)
  • TAU SA
  • Wetlike Boerdery Prosesse
  • Work Accident Support

Role players

Further reference:



Websites and publications

Included amongst the many Useful Guides on are the following:

  • Basic Guide to Annual Leave (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Child Labour (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Compensation for Medical Expenses
  • Basic Guide to Compensation for Occupational Fatalities
  • Basic Guide to Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases
  • Basic Guide to Deductions (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Employment Contracts (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Family Responsibility Leave (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Health and Safety Committees
  • Basic Guide to Health and Safety Duties of Workers
  • Basic Guide to Maternity Leave (Learnerships)
  • Basic Guide to Minimum Wages (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Overtime (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Pay Slips (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Public Holidays (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Sick Leave (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Termination (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Working Hours (Farm Workers)
  • Basic Guide to Working on Sundays (Farm Workers)

Find the documents and necessary forms on These include information on:

  • Basic Condition of Employment
  • Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases
  • Employment Equity
  • Labour Relations
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Service Delivery
  • Public Employment Services (PES)
  • Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)
  • Public Employment Services (PES)

Amongst the other useful websites, publications and other media aids are the following:

  • Gazette Notices
  • Find the “Legislation” option at, website of the Agricultural Business Chamber. This includes a breakdown on how legislation is passed.
  • Farmers’ manual on criminal justice issues available from Agri SA. The aim is “to make farmers aware of their rights and to provide broad guidelines as to how they should act in the event of an arrest”. This is in response to cases where farmers were unlawfully arrested because of false statements and shoddy investigative work.
  • Two documents on the issue of tenant security on farms are the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA)’s Pathways out of Poverty: Improving Farm Dwellers’ Tenure Security and Access to Housing and Services and the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI)’s Protection Against Eviction under the Extension of Security of Tenure Act. Both are hailed as guides for people interested in farm tenure rights.
  • Visit (or in Afrikaans) for notes on various laws and to source assistance.
  • There is a link on the Kwanalu website,, called “Acts and gazettes” that deals with legislative issues.
  • The South African Labour Guide website – – is a highly useful one. Find the many menu options – UIF; Warnings; Codes of Good Practice etc. Click on the issue about which you wish to know more. A South African Labour Guide newsletter is also offered.
  • The LWO Employers Organisation provides labour related manuals, pro forma vorms, disciplinary codes, policies and procedures, applicable legal posters, etc. On their website, information is available in both English and Afrikaans. See
  • Labourwise – – is the “definitive online South African Labour Help Resource”. Find the Farmworkers menu option which takes you to several guides and forms e.g. contract of employment with explanatory notes. You have to be a member though to view these.
  • Visit the Paralegal Advice website at 
  • Sabinet offer legal services on a pre-paid, online subscription basis. Visit for more.
  • Find the document library at for  various documents of interest e.g. guides to farm accommodation, protocols for access to your farm and more.
  • The Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) collects and publishes legal materials from Southern and Eastern Africa for free online access. Read more at
  • The Shopsteward can be downloaded at
  • The TAU SA has a CD (or hardcopy for those farmers without access to a computer) includes guidelines on Sectoral Determination, minmum wages and various legal procedures a farmer should follow.
  • Download “Farm Evictions and their Impact on Local Municipalities. Policy Brief 10” by the Financial and Fiscal Commission in 2017 at—policy-brief-10-2017-07-13.


Some articles

Table of Contents