Bill Text: NY A05386 | 2021-2022 | General Assembly | Introduced

NOTE: There are more recent revisions of this legislation. Read Latest Draft
Bill Title: Establishes the soil health and climate resiliency act; establishes the soil health program to assist farmers in improving the health of their soil; establishes the climate resilient farming initiative to promote and encourage farmers to reduce the effects of farming on climate change and to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change by improving and maintaining water management systems and soil health and resiliency.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Democrat 22-3)

Status: (Engrossed) 2021-06-08 - RETURNED TO ASSEMBLY [A05386 Detail]

Download: New_York-2021-A05386-Introduced.html



                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________

                                          5386

                               2021-2022 Regular Sessions

                   IN ASSEMBLY

                                    February 16, 2021
                                       ___________

        Introduced by M. of A. LUPARDO, BARRETT -- read once and referred to the
          Committee on Agriculture

        AN  ACT  to amend the agriculture and markets law, the state finance law
          and the soil and water conservation  districts  law,  in  relation  to
          establishing the soil health and climate resiliency act

          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:

     1    Section 1. This act shall be known and  may  be  cited  as  the  "soil
     2  health and climate resiliency act".
     3    §  2. The agriculture and markets law is amended by adding a new arti-
     4  cle 11-B to read as follows:
     5                                ARTICLE 11-B
     6                     SOIL HEALTH AND CLIMATE RESILIENCY
     7  Section 151-l. Definitions.
     8          151-m. Soil health program.
     9          151-n. Climate resilient farming program.
    10          151-o. Soil health partnership and research framework.
    11    § 151-l. Definitions. As used in this article: 1. "Soil health"  means
    12  soils  that  have the continuing capacity to function as a vital, living
    13  biological system through: increased soil organic matter; improved  soil
    14  structure,  water  and  nutrient-holding  capacity and nutrient cycling;
    15  diversity of beneficial organisms; enhanced resilience to  tolerate  and
    16  recover  from  drought, temperature extremes, pests, and other stresses;
    17  protecting natural resources; and assisting in reducing  and  mitigating
    18  the  impact of global climate change, including net long-term greenhouse
    19  gas benefits.
    20    2. "Soil health practices" means systems of agricultural, forestry and
    21  land management practices that:
    22    a. improve the health of soils, including but not limited to consider-
    23  ation of depth of topsoil horizons, water infiltration rate, water hold-
    24  ing capacity, organic carbon content, biologically  accessible  nutrient

         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD05460-04-1

        A. 5386                             2

     1  content,  bulk density, biological activity, and biological and microbi-
     2  ological diversity;
     3    b.  follow the principles of: minimizing soil disturbance and external
     4  inputs; keeping soil covered; maximizing biodiversity; maximizing  pres-
     5  ence  of  living  roots;  and  integrating animals into land management,
     6  including grazing animals, birds, beneficial insects  or  other  species
     7  beneficial to the soil, such as earthworms; and
     8    c.  include  such practices as conservation tillage or no-till, cover-
     9  cropping, precision nitrogen and phosphorous application, planned  graz-
    10  ing,  integrated  crop-livestock systems, agroforestry, perennial crops,
    11  integrated pest management,  nutrient  best  management  practices,  and
    12  those  practices recommended by the United States Department of Agricul-
    13  ture Natural Resources Conservation Service and that  are  supported  by
    14  the state soil and water conservation committee.
    15    3.  "Soil  health  project"  means  a  specific work or improvement or
    16  equipment acquisition that is undertaken for improving  soil  health  on
    17  lands utilized for commercial farming and forestry.
    18    4.  "Climate  adaptation" means the process of adjustment to actual or
    19  expected climate and its effects.
    20    5. "Climate mitigation" means  a  human  intervention  to  reduce  the
    21  sources or enhance the "sinks" that absorb and store greenhouse gases.
    22    §  151-m.  Soil  health program. 1. There is hereby established within
    23  the department a soil health program to assist farmers in improving  the
    24  health  of  their  soil by managing and optimizing soil health to reduce
    25  negative impacts on the  environment  while  improving  long  term  soil
    26  productivity, efficiency, and profitability of farming, sustaining agri-
    27  cultural  plants  and animals and a healthy, affordable food supply, and
    28  addressing such environmental impacts from those operations,  including,
    29  but  not  limited  to,  soil, air and water pollution and greenhouse gas
    30  emissions.
    31    2. The department, in cooperation with the soil and water conservation
    32  committee, shall implement a program to assist rural and urban  agricul-
    33  tural  producers  and  foresters  in optimizing and managing soil health
    34  through soil health practices that include, but shall not be limited to:
    35    (a) improving soil health and quantity, and control soil  erosion  and
    36  sedimentation;
    37    (b) improving water infiltration rates and water holding capacities of
    38  soils  for  improved  storm  water management and flood control, drought
    39  resilience, and groundwater supply; and
    40    (c) managing and enhancing the healthy cycling of nitrogen  and  phos-
    41  phorus  within fields, to minimize nutrient runoff and reduce downstream
    42  nutrient loading, improve watershed health and reliable water availabil-
    43  ity, restore and enhance wildlife habitat, and manage water  runoff  and
    44  drainage water for improved local and downstream water quality.
    45    The  program  may also include, but not be limited to: the training of
    46  soil health management experts who can provide expertise to other  farm-
    47  ers;  financial  assistance,  within  funds available, to soil and water
    48  conservation districts; other incentives for program participation;  and
    49  evaluation  of  the  program  and  projects to assess effectiveness. The
    50  department, in the development of the program or any significant  change
    51  to  the  established  program,  shall  consult  with  one or more of the
    52  following organizations, as appropriate: the soil and water conservation
    53  committee, the department of environmental conservation,  and  organiza-
    54  tions   representing   farmers,   farmland  preservation,  environmental
    55  protection, forestry, the  United  States  Department  of  Agriculture's
    56  National  Resources Conservation Services, the New York state college of

        A. 5386                             3

     1  agriculture and life sciences established in section fifty-seven hundred
     2  twelve of the education law  including  Cornell  Cooperative  Extension,
     3  other  institutions  of higher education working on soil health, and any
     4  other organization designated by the commissioner.
     5    3.  Subject to the availability of funding, the department, in cooper-
     6  ation with the soil and  water  conservation  committee  and  districts,
     7  shall make grants, and incentives to farmers, foresters and agricultural
     8  cooperatives  to  enhance  the  education, training, employment, income,
     9  productivity and retention of those working or aspiring to work  in  the
    10  field of soil health practices and to implement soil health practices in
    11  the  state and provide technical support in implementing such practices.
    12  Amounts credited to the soil health fund shall  also  be  used,  without
    13  further  appropriation,  for the costs associated with administering and
    14  implementing the program and may also be used to  provide  grants  on  a
    15  competitive  basis to public, private and charitable entities to finance
    16  projects in furtherance of the soil health program.  The  program  shall
    17  establish a statewide network of experts or peer leaders to promote soil
    18  health  stewardship and training, where such experts or leaders are land
    19  managers identified for their excellence in applying and promoting  soil
    20  health principles, as modeled by a similar program of a national associ-
    21  ation of conservation districts. The program shall be designed to prior-
    22  itize  incentives  to  beginning  and socially disadvantaged farmers and
    23  ranchers, as defined by 7 U.S.C. §2279(a). Up to five percent  of  fund-
    24  ing,  unless  otherwise  restricted,  may  be  used for research in soil
    25  health and soil health measurement.  Up  to  five  percent  of  funding,
    26  unless otherwise restricted, may be used for administrative and overhead
    27  expenses of the department.  Expenditures for this purpose shall comple-
    28  ment  and  not replace existing local, state, private or federal funding
    29  for related programs.
    30    4. The department, in  conjunction  with  the  state  soil  and  water
    31  conservation  committee,  shall  report  annually  to  the governor, the
    32  legislature and participating agencies  on  the  progress  of  the  soil
    33  health  program,  including  an  assessment  of program effectiveness in
    34  achieving program objectives, public and private program  participation,
    35  and  such  other  information  as  the department and the committee deem
    36  appropriate.   The report  shall  include  receipts,  expenditures,  and
    37  activities funded through the program. The report shall include informa-
    38  tion  regarding  the  program  and  the results of activities, including
    39  demonstrated progress toward meeting the timetable for achieving specif-
    40  ic goals for land area managed for soil health and watershed health, and
    41  measurable improvements to soil and watershed health which have been set
    42  by the committee.
    43    5. The department is empowered to  promulgate  such  rules  and  regu-
    44  lations and to prescribe such forms as it shall deem necessary to effec-
    45  tuate the purposes of this section.
    46    §  151-n. Climate resilient farming program. 1. There is hereby estab-
    47  lished within the department a  climate  resilient  farming  program  to
    48  reduce  the  effects  of farming on climate change and assist farmers in
    49  mitigating the impact of climate change. The program may  also  include:
    50  financial assistance within funds available, to soil and water conserva-
    51  tion  districts;  other incentives for program participation; and evalu-
    52  ation of the program and projects to assess effectiveness.
    53    2. Subject to the availability of funds, a matching grants program  is
    54  established  to fund projects which mitigate greenhouse gas emissions on
    55  farmland or promote the adaptation  of  farmland  to  projected  climate
    56  change impacts.

        A. 5386                             4

     1    3.  Projects  shall be integrated within the framework of the agricul-
     2  tural environmental management program established in  article  eleven-A
     3  of  this  chapter  and section eleven of the soil and water conservation
     4  districts law and the soil health program  established  in  section  one
     5  hundred fifty-one-m of this article.
     6    4.  Project applicants are the soil and water conservation district or
     7  a group of soil and water conservation districts acting as a region.
     8    5. State assistance may be provided for up to seventy-five percent  of
     9  the  eligible  project costs, with the districts providing documentation
    10  of matching funds or in-kind contributions to meet the matching require-
    11  ments.
    12    6. Projects shall incorporate best management  practices  for  climate
    13  and  soil  resiliency,  as  informed  by the United States Department of
    14  Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Field Office  Techni-
    15  cal  Guide  and  by research conducted by New York state institutions of
    16  higher education with expertise in soil health and approved by  the  New
    17  York state soil and water conservation board.
    18    7.  Projects  shall  be  approved in three categories, with additional
    19  areas to be added as designated by the commissioner to reflect  emerging
    20  climate science research:
    21    a.  projects  to  reduce  methane emissions on livestock farms with an
    22  emphasis on dietary changes and manure handling systems;
    23    b. projects to implement water management systems on farmland for  the
    24  purposes  of  mitigating  climate consequences of increased rainfall and
    25  soil moisture as well as increased drought conditions; and
    26    c. projects to encourage soil health and resiliency including but  not
    27  limited  to promoting cover cropping, no-till adoption, biochar incorpo-
    28  ration, carbon sinks and nitrous oxide emissions reduction.
    29    8. The department, in  conjunction  with  the  state  soil  and  water
    30  conservation  committee,  shall  report  annually  to  the governor, the
    31  legislature and participating agencies on the progress  of  the  climate
    32  resilient farming program, including an assessment of program effective-
    33  ness in achieving program objectives, public and private program partic-
    34  ipation,  and such other information as the department and the committee
    35  deem appropriate. The report shall include receipts,  expenditures,  and
    36  activities funded through the program. The report shall include informa-
    37  tion  regarding  the  program  and  the results of activities, including
    38  demonstrated progress toward meeting the  timetable  for  achieving  the
    39  specific goals set by the commissioner.
    40    9.  The  commissioner shall have the authority to promulgate rules and
    41  regulations  necessary  to  implement  the  climate  resilient   farming
    42  program.
    43    §  151-o.  Soil  health partnership and research framework. Subject to
    44  the availability of funds, the commissioner, in cooperation with  a  New
    45  York  state  institution  of  higher  education  with  expertise in soil
    46  health, shall develop  and  implement  a  soil  health  partnership  and
    47  research framework with goals to:
    48    1.  Continue  accelerating  the  percentage  of  farmers  who actively
    49  utilize best management practices to foster soil health and resiliency;
    50    2. Provide necessary research and  training  programs  to  inform  our
    51  scientific  understanding  of  soil health and carbon sequestration with
    52  various farming practices, including but not limited to  no-till,  cover
    53  cropping, managed grazing, perennial pasture, and precise application of
    54  added  nutrients  to  achieve  nitrous  oxide  emissions  reduction, and
    55  including but not limited to research on measuring soil  organic  matter
    56  and on long-term soil health outcomes; and

        A. 5386                             5

     1    3.  Establish  a collaborative partnership of state, federal, farmers,
     2  natural resource professionals and community  stakeholders  around  soil
     3  health and resiliency and climate adaptation, resilience and mitigation.
     4    § 3. The state finance law is amended by adding a new section 99-ii to
     5  read as follows:
     6    § 99-ii. Soil health fund. 1. There is hereby established in the joint
     7  custody of the state comptroller and the commissioner of agriculture and
     8  markets a fund to be known as the "soil health fund".
     9    2.  Such  fund  shall consist of: (a) any moneys appropriated and made
    10  available by the state for the purposes of such fund; (b)  notwithstand-
    11  ing  the  provisions  of this chapter or any other provision of law, any
    12  moneys which the department of agriculture and markets shall receive  in
    13  repayment  of  advances  made  from  such fund; and (c) any other moneys
    14  which may be made available to the department of agriculture and markets
    15  for the purpose of such fund from any other source or sources.
    16    § 4. Subdivision 2 of section 2 of the  soil  and  water  conservation
    17  districts  law  is  renumbered  subdivision 3 and a new subdivision 2 is
    18  added to read as follows:
    19    (2) Promotion of soil health and resiliency. It  is  further  declared
    20  the  policy  of  the legislature to promote the health and resiliency of
    21  New York's agricultural soils, including the biological,  physical,  and
    22  chemical  components  of  such soils, to sustain agricultural plants and
    23  animals, produce a healthy, affordable food supply, reduce  the  effects
    24  of  farming  on climate change and mitigate the impact of climate change
    25  on farming, and further protect and promote natural  resources  and  the
    26  health, safety and welfare of the people of this state.
    27    §  5.  Paragraph i of subdivision 4 of section 4 of the soil and water
    28  conservation districts law, as added by chapter 136 of the laws of 2000,
    29  is amended and a new paragraph j is added to read as follows:
    30    i.  To  coordinate  and  approve  the  participation  of  the  several
    31  districts  in  the  AEM  program as set forth in article eleven-A of the
    32  agriculture and markets law[.];
    33    j.  to  coordinate  and  approve  the  participation  of  the  several
    34  districts in the soil health and climate resiliency program as set forth
    35  in article eleven-B of the agriculture and markets law.
    36    § 6. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.
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