New licensing of activities involving animals

Children meeting lambs on a farm visit.

Update on Open Farm Sunday:
6 June 2019

Defra has confirmed that the regulations and accompanying guidance are targeted at businesses seeking to make a profit from keeping or training animals for exhibition. As all registered LEAF Open Farm Sunday events are free to enter or have a modest charge, which many farmers use to cover basic costs or donate to charity, farmers do not need to have a licence simply by taking part in this annual event.

It is important to note, however, that the position may be different for farmers who invite the public on farm on other occasions in addition to LEAF Open Farm Sunday. Please contact NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458 for further information

To find out more about these regulations, please read the full guidance available on


Last October, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 came into force.

This legislation is intended to strengthen the protection of animal welfare in businesses which work with animals. It introduces five new areas of licensing, one of which is entitled “keeping or training animals for exhibition”. Businesses which require and obtain a licence under the legislation must then comply with the relevant licensing conditions.

While it might seem unlikely that farmers would be classed as 'keeping or training animals for exhibition', Defra has said that it considers that there are situations in which farmers may be required to hold a licence. For example, farmers who charge a fee for members of the public to visit their farm for events such as livestock showing or during lambing season, may be required to hold a licence under the new regulations.

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Last edited on: 06:06:2019

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