Government, agricultural law and regulations

Government, agricultural law and regulations


Policy and legislation texts relevant for the agricultural sector.

Key datasets

  • (Phyto) sanitary regulations (list of quarantine organisms, etc.)
  • Environmental regulations
  • Subsidy schemes
  • Import/export regulations
  • Animal health and welfare regulations


Decision making resulting in policies and legislation is the core business of any government. By making these documents available online as structured and computer-searchable text, (third party) ICT services can be developed that will enable a better sharing and implementation of these policies and legislation, thereby contributing to the realisation of their objectives. Having lists of applicable policies and regulations, and extracting any data they contain (such as lists of subsidies) can also be helpful.

Expected impact: Intermediate

Farmer use

  • Farmers can optimise their position with regard to subsidy opportunities, legal restrictions and other policy instruments by having better access to the relevant policy and legislation documents. (See also below, Government in Action 3)

Use by other actors

  • By having better access to policy documents and legislation documents
  • rural advisors can provide better recommendation to farmers
  • other actors in the value chain, e.g. traders, processors, unions etc., may be able to adapt better to the existing legal framework, e.g. legislation for finance, input usage regulations etc.
  • civil society is better able to track policy developments
  • internal government collaboration can be improved.


More and more governments provide online policy documents and legislation texts. However, most legal documents are shared as non-searchable PDFs. The usability of these online resources would be improved if they were provided as machine-readable text, including structure and semantic components to allow the development of ICT-driven high-value services.

Reading and applying policy and legislation text requires some prior legal knowledge and skills. To make the data more useable by the intended users, dedicated apps are needed to distil the right information and present it in an understandable way, e.g. building a search application to explore farm subsidy options and checking if a farmer meets the application requirements.

Examples of implementation

  • provides a browsable and searchable repository of all legislation in the UK. Advanced searching is possible using region- and time-specific filters. The data can also be accessed by a machine using a special interface (
  • is a portal (in Dutch) providing all plans originating from the different levels of government that apply at a specific location by clicking on a map.
  • Kenyan government webportal providing access to all Kenyan laws as PDFs, including agricultural acts.
  • One of the world’s largest electronic collections of national laws, regulations and policies on food, agriculture and renewable natural resources (as PDFs).

Initiatives that support interoperability

  • “Akoma Ntoso” is developed specifically to describe machine-readable parliamentary, legislative and normative documents and it is currently used by different Parliaments around the world including Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Kenya, Hong Kong, European Parliament, Italy, Switzerland, and USA.
  • Popolo Project – International open government data specifications for government processes. Open data format enhancing government transparency, providing formats for people, organisations, voting events, votes, speeches etc.

Government in Action 2: Conserving the countryside, making the most out of complex subsidy schemes in the United Kingdom

Cornwall Countryside, Photo Credit to Francois Schnell.

To benefit from Countryside Stewardship grants, farmers in the UK have to navigate 753 pages of documents. To facilitate this process and make sure they make the most of their conservation legislation, the UK government provides a search engine to find options, supplements, and capital items to include in an application for Countryside Stewardship. This is an example of providing more efficient access to digital legislation data for farmers and rural advisors.

Policy area: Enforcing policies
Key data category: Policies and Legislation data
Location: Europe