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The Sempastous Law: An Overview of AGRICULTURAL law in France and SAFER preemption rights


The Sempastous law is a legislative measure designed to regulate the corporate market and ensure transparency in agricultural land transfers in France. The law aims to free up land for young people looking to establish or expand their agricultural operations.

Expanded Scope of Declarations

Previously, declarations to the Société d’aménagement foncier et d’établissement rural (SAFER) were limited to the transfers of titles of companies with a primary agricultural purpose. The Sempastous law expands this scope to include all total or partial transfers of shares or actions of companies that hold, in ownership or enjoyment, real estate for agricultural use or purpose. This includes transfers of titles of companies that hold such companies, also known as holdings. Companies whose head office is abroad but have their operating headquarters in France are also included.


Implementation of Control Operations

The expanded scope of declarations allows SAFER to implement control operations if two conditions are met: the takeover or strengthening of the company’s control by the beneficiary of the transfer, and the exceeding of a threshold of agricultural land area weighted according to agricultural productions and determined by region.


Regional Thresholds for Control Operations

The threshold for triggering these control operations varies by region and is set by prefectural decree. The thresholds are as follows:

  • Grand-Est region: 222 hectares (except for the “Montagne Vosgienne”)
  • Nouvelle Aquitaine: 120 hectares
  • PACA (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur): 127.50 hectares

These thresholds are designed to characterize the excessiveness of an operation compared to a so-called “normal” operation.


Administrative Authorization and Exemptions

Any operation that exceeds these thresholds can only be implemented after obtaining an administrative authorization issued by the prefect of the department after instruction by SAFER. However, there are exemptions provided for certain situations, such as donations, family operations up to the 4th degree with conservation of the titles by the beneficiary for 9 years, transfers made between associates who have held this quality for at least 9 years, as well as for operations carried out by SAFER.


Implementation Timeline

These declarations will be necessary for all operations carried out from April 2, 2023. For most French regions, the prefectural order comes into effect on March 1, 2023, which means that corporate operations carried out from April 1, 2023, will have to be submitted to the control of the prefecture if the legal conditions are met.

About the Author :

Business lawyers, bilingual, specialized in acquisition law; Benoit Lafourcade is co-founder of Delcade lawyers & solicitors and founder of FRELA; registered as agents in personal and professional real estate transactions. Member of AAMTI (main association of French lawyers and agents).

FRELA : French Real Estate Lawyer Agency, specializing in acquisition law to secure real estate and business transactions in France.

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