Did you know that the UK currently uses approximately 71% of its land area for agriculture? Farming dates back thousands of years, running through generations, and truly is the backbone of the economy. In fact, in 2020, the agriculture sector provided over nine billion pounds (in gross value) to the economy.  

But, as a farmer, you’re also responsible for maintaining certain standards set by the government. It may feel overwhelming to track them all. So, this guide will list some farm rules and regulations, including:

  • Animal welfare
  • Disease
  • Water
  • Health and safety
  • Record keeping

Animal welfare 

In 1981, the UK introduced the Animal Health Act, which outlines requirements to care for and maintain livestock’s welfare. Apart from ensuring they are healthy and well-fed, you will need to manage them safely. These rules vary depending on the animal. For example, if you own pigs you must register as a pig keeper and have a license. 

To slaughter animals on your farm, you need a certificate of competence or license to slaughter or kill animals (CoC). You’ll also need to do this in an approved slaughterhouse. If you plan to kill infant cows, you must do so humanely and quickly to avoid stress or suffering. This requires proper training. 

Further, you must register livestock markets and exhibitions with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), which may require a fee. When taking these rules into account, be sure to keep updated and clear records of all livestock you have and the licensing and registrations necessary for those animals. 


There are also farm rules and regulations to prevent illness and disease breakout. The APHA expects you to follow and maintain strong biosecurity on your farm at all times. You can learn more about biosecurity measures here

Some diseases you may need to check for include African horse sickness, anthrax, avian influenza, bovine tuberculosis, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). You will also need to watch for things like rabies in imported cattle. 

The government sometimes requires sample testing of things like BSE when cattle raised for consumption show signs of the illness. This may apply to cattle born outside of the UK or EU who are older than 30 months or show signs of disease. 

Aside from this, you will need to know the regulations for disposing of animal by-products, surplus food, and dead animals. For example, you must record the deaths of untagged calves in your farm records. Then, the animal by-products 2013 regulations outline how to handle, transport, and store by-products in a way that reduces the risk of disease. 

To maintain the health standards of your livestock, you need to keep clear medical records of each of your animals. This will help you manage and determine the root of a problem. In fact, maintaining updated records of all operations will show that you follow regulations. 


To promote sustainable methods, the UK government passed and recently updated the farming rules for water. These guidelines cover manure and soil management to reduce pollution caused by farming.  

The rules outline that farmers:

  • Must not store organic manures on their land near freshwater sources, spring, or where there is a risk of it entering and polluting fresh or coastal waters.
  • Must not apply organic or manufactured fertiliser where the land is waterlogged, snowed on, freshly moved, or at risk of causing pollution 
  • Must take caution to prevent runoff and erosion from the application of fertiliser or organic manure 
  • Must prevent erosion near freshwater or coastal water by avoiding poaching by livestock 
  • Must not position livestock feeders near freshwater, coastal water, springs, or where there is significant pollution from poaching

Find more on these regulations here

Health and safety 

Health and safety on a farm are among the most important things, especially with the daily risks farmworkers face. Plus, as many farms produce food for the public, strict health standards can avoid illness or injury due to your business. 

Safety measures 

From operating dangerous machinery to the chance of sustaining an injury from livestock or lifting heavy objects, there are many opportunities to get hurt. Farmers can also endure biohazards, respiratory, and noise-based injuries. But, closely following health and safety regulations can help you avoid or adequately react to these injuries. 

Properly manage risks with risk assessments to establish what areas pose the greatest threat to health and safety. To start, consider getting accredited agriculture health and safety training to be aware of best practices. Then, put together a safety plan for your business to ensure you follow the proper procedures. With these methods, you can minimise risks. 

Then, learn more about The Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations of 1999 here.  

Food hygiene

If you produce and sell food on your farm, it’s important to consider food hygiene. You’ll need to adhere to the regulation of food hygiene and foodstuffs. Also, regulations require that all feed businesses be registered and approved by their local authority. 

According to the Animal Feed regulations of 2015, there are strict hygiene and safety controls to regulate feed and surplus food. For example, if you determine surplus food as feed, you never label it as waste. 

Record keeping

The most important part of following farm rules and regulations is to keep clear business updated records. These records should include crops and livestock and their health information, your practices, licences and registrations, and financial records. This way, if your farm authorities inspect your farm for compliance, you’ll have transparent information on your operation. 

How Countingup can help you comply with farm regulations 

Strong financial management can help your business comply with farm rules and regulations because it allows you to stay on top of and plan for them. You can use these records to help you budget for necessary qualifications and licensing. Plus, you may need to invest in proper disposal or sustainable methods or pay for disease testing or inspections. 

Thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.