What stays behind the meaning of the so-called “white spots”, pursuant to the law, based on owning and using of agricultural land

“White spots” is a term, used to designate such an agricultural land that is not cultivated by its owners, but which, in compliance with the principle, related to the fact the agricultural land shall not be deserted, but cultivated instead, is to be granted to third parties under the laid down procedure, provided in the current legal act.

Each owner of agricultural land is obliged to submit a written declaration, stating the management form and the permanent usage way, regarding  the land they own. The declaration has to be filed within the Municipal agricultural office, in terms of the property location.

In case of co-ownership, it is necessary only one of the owners to file a declaration. The legal act also provides,  in terms of the submission,  a copy of the tenancy agreement, a lease or joint land contract  to be attached, in case there are such. The written declaration submitted is a sole one. If the owner does not want their farmland to be included into the mass land use, the same must explicitly state it into the declaration lodging. Provided that the owner is willing their farmland to be included into the land mass use or fails to submit the necessary declaration on time, the owned agricultural land is to become part of  the utilization areas.
Regardless the owner’s preferred cultivation form, the declaration and the documents attached must be submitted before the start of the following business year, but namely until 31st  July. The declaration is submitted, pursuant to a preapproved template, to the Municipal Agricultural Office in terms of the property location.
In case the owner has not declared the owned agricultural land or if a lease contract is lacked,  the same is to become the so-called “white spot property”. It is essential to have in mind that it is not necessary a declaration for each calendar year to be submitted, in case a tenancy/a lease agreement has been concluded and presented to the Municipal Agricultural Office.
The white spot term has been imposed more into the practice, having in mind there is no legal definition implemented. The possibility of turning agricultural land into a white spot is regulated into the legal act, providing as it follows: “the ​​agricultural land area in terms of which there are no contracts, having entered into force as well as no declarations submitted by the owners under Article 37b, is distributed among the users proportionally to the area and according to the permanent usage way and/or rented/leased agricultural land in the respective land”. The last means in case the agricultural land owner does not submit such a declaration within the statutory deadline (July 31st), respectively the same has not expressed their explicit willingness the owned land not to be included into a mass exploitation, the land could be allocated to other agricultural land users.

The regulated plots of land, classified as white spots properties are officially entered into a register, maintained by the Municipal Agricultural Office, in which the agricultural land falls. The white spots are distributed to the plots’ users, according to the permanent usage way in terms of agricultural land, based on an order, issued by the Director of the Regional Agriculture Directorate. The present order is issued specifically for each business year, having in mind the business year is a different term from the calendar year and represents the time from 1st October of the current year to 1st October of the following year.
The order is announced in the town hall in which area the agricultural land falls, as well as in the building of the Municipal Agricultural Office. The order is also published on the website of the municipality and the relevant Regional Agricultural Directorate until 10th October. The order issued by the Director of the Regional Agricultural Directorate may be appealed in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Code, whereas such an action does not stop its execution.
For the allocated agricultural white spot land treatment, the user owes a fee to the owner, which is calculated on the basis of the arable land. Within a three-month period since the order publication in terms of agricultural land allocation, the sum, owed by the user, amounting at the average annual rent payment, should be transferred to the foreign funds account of the relevant Regional Agricultural Directorate. In case the beneficiaries have failed to pay the sums for their agricultural land, the director of the Regional Agricultural Directorate issues an order for payment the three-time-multiplied average annual rent payment for the land. Within 7 days of the order receipt, the users should transfer the amounts due to the account of the respective Regional Agriculture Directorate.

The amounts, deposited by the white spots users, are being paid in a ten-year term to the agricultural lands owners by the Regional Agricultural Directorate, based on the order, issued by the director of the Regional Agricultural Directorate. Information about the officially allocated and farmed land, as well as the rent payment due could be obtained from the Municipal Agricultural Office in terms of  the property location. The Agricultural Office does not notify the оwner about the transferred sums. For the funds refunding, allocated for the so-called white spots cultivation, an application in a standard form has to be filed, accompanied by a certificate for a current bank account via which the due rent payment should be transferred. The Municipal Agricultural Office officially sends the application, submitted by the agricultural land owner to the Regional Agricultural Directorate, which, after verifying the documents provided, pays the due rent payment by transfer to the bank account, specified by the owner. Documents may also be submitted by post.

If the owner is not willing to cultivate their farmland, but prefers to avoid the land being farmed by different users during the economic years, they are also able to conclude a lease agreement, who should also be provided in the Municipal Agricultural Office, in which area the landed property falls, as well as the same to be entered into the Registry Agency – Property Register.

By declaring the land owned by the owners by submitting a declaration, a greater degree of security and protection is provided, the avoidance of the random agricultural lands cultivation and the unprocessed ones. However, even if they do not have the usage right without their knowledge, their agricultural land can become a white spot property and be officially allocated as well as cultivated.

In case of further questions, you shall contact Popov, Arnaudov & Partners Law Office and send your inquiries to Nora Kyuchukova, attorney-at-law at e-mail: office@popovarnaudov.bg.