House File 2346 - Introduced HOUSE FILE 2346 BY ISENHART and BEARINGER A BILL FOR An Act providing for a healthy soils and watersheds initiative, 1 and including effective date provisions. 2 BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA: 3 TLSB 5663YH (7) 88 da/ns
H.F. 2346 Section 1. Section 161A.3, Code 2020, is amended by adding 1 the following new subsections: 2 NEW SUBSECTION . 9A. “Healthy soils practice” means the same 3 as defined in section 161H.1. 4 NEW SUBSECTION . 12A. “Soil health” means the same as 5 defined in section 161H.1. 6 NEW SUBSECTION . 12B. “Soil health assessment” means the 7 same as defined in section 161H.1. 8 NEW SUBSECTION . 15. “Watershed health” means the same as 9 defined in section 161H.1. 10 Sec. 2. Section 161A.4, subsection 2, paragraph g, Code 11 2020, is amended to read as follows: 12 g. To assist each soil and water conservation district in 13 developing a district soil and water resource conservation plan 14 as provided under section 161A.7 . The plan shall be developed 15 according to rules adopted by the division to preserve and 16 protect the public interest in the soil and water resources 17 of this state for future generations and for this purpose to 18 encourage, promote, facilitate, and where such public interest 19 requires, to mandate the conservation and proper control of 20 and use of the soil and water resources of this state, by 21 measures including but not limited to the control of floods, 22 the control of erosion by water or by wind, the improvement of 23 soil health and quantity of healthy soil, the improvement of 24 watershed health, the preservation of the quality of water for 25 its optimum use for agricultural, irrigation, recreational, 26 industrial, and domestic purposes, all of which shall be 27 presumed to be conducive to the public health, convenience, and 28 welfare, both present and future. 29 Sec. 3. Section 161A.4, subsection 2, Code 2020, is amended 30 by adding the following new paragraph: 31 NEW PARAGRAPH . j. To assist landowners or occupiers of land 32 in developing soil health assessments. 33 Sec. 4. Section 161A.4, subsection 4, paragraph a, 34 subparagraph (1), Code 2020, is amended to read as follows: 35 -1- LSB 5663YH (7) 88 da/ns 1/ 8
H.F. 2346 (1) Six of the members shall be persons engaged in actual 1 farming operations, one of whom at least two of whom shall have 2 experience using healthy soils practices. One of the members 3 shall be a resident of each of six geographic regions in the 4 state, including northwest, southwest, north central, south 5 central, northeast, and southeast Iowa, and no more than one of 6 whom shall be a resident of any one county. The boundaries of 7 the geographic regions shall be established by rule. 8 Sec. 5. Section 161A.7, subsection 1, paragraphs f, h, and 9 m, Code 2020, are amended to read as follows: 10 f. To make available on such terms as it shall prescribe, 11 to landowners or occupiers within the district, agricultural 12 and engineering machinery and equipment, fertilizer, lime, and 13 such other material or equipment as will assist such landowners 14 or occupiers to carry on operations upon their lands for the 15 conservation of soil resources and for ; the improvement of soil 16 health and quantity of healthy soil; the prevention and control 17 of soil erosion ; and for the prevention of erosion, floodwater, 18 and sediment damages. 19 h. To develop comprehensive plans for the conservation of 20 soil resources , for the improvement of soil health and quantity 21 of healthy soil, and for the control and prevention of soil 22 erosion and for the prevention of erosion, floodwater, and 23 sediment damages within the district, which plans shall specify 24 in such detail as may be possible, the acts, procedures, 25 performances, and avoidances which are necessary or desirable 26 for the effectuation of such plans, including the specification 27 of engineering operations, methods of cultivation, the 28 growing of vegetation, cropping programs, tillage practices, 29 and changes in use of land; and to publish such plans and 30 information and bring them to the attention of owners and 31 occupiers of lands within the district. 32 m. To encourage local school districts to provide 33 instruction in the importance of and in some of the basic 34 methods of soil conservation and healthy soils practices , as 35 -2- LSB 5663YH (7) 88 da/ns 2/ 8
H.F. 2346 a part of course work relating to conservation of natural 1 resources and environmental awareness required in rules adopted 2 by the state board of education pursuant to section 256.11, 3 subsections 3 and 4 , and to offer technical assistance to 4 schools in developing such instructional programs. 5 Sec. 6. Section 161A.7, subsection 1, paragraph n, 6 subparagraph (1), subparagraph divisions (a) and (b), Code 7 2020, are amended to read as follows: 8 (a) Assessing the condition of soil and surface water in 9 the district, including an evaluation of the type, amount, and 10 quality of soil and water , ; soil health; watershed health; the 11 threat of soil erosion and erosion, floodwater, and sediment 12 damages , ; and necessary preventative , and control measures. 13 (b) Developing methods to maintain or improve soil health 14 and water condition watershed health . 15 Sec. 7. Section 161A.42, subsection 9, paragraph b, Code 16 2020, is amended to read as follows: 17 b. “Temporary soil and water conservation practices” means 18 planting of annual or biennial crops, use of strip-cropping, 19 cover-cropping, contour planting, or minimum or mulch or 20 no tillage, healthy soils practices, and any agriculture, 21 silviculture, aquaculture, permaculture, or other cultural 22 practices approved by the committee. 23 Sec. 8. Section 161A.53, Code 2020, is amended to read as 24 follows: 25 161A.53 Cooperation with other agencies. 26 Soil and water conservation districts may enter into 27 agreements with the federal government or an agency of the 28 federal government, as provided by state law, or with the state 29 of Iowa or an agency of the state, any other soil and water 30 conservation district, or any other political subdivision of 31 this state, for cooperation in preventing, controlling, or 32 attempting to prevent or control soil erosion , or improving or 33 attempting to improve soil health or performing soil health 34 assessments . Soil and water conservation districts may accept, 35 -3- LSB 5663YH (7) 88 da/ns 3/ 8
H.F. 2346 as provided by state law, money disbursed for soil erosion 1 control , soil health improvement, or soil health assessment 2 purposes by the federal government or an agency of the federal 3 government, and expend the money for the purposes for which it 4 was received. 5 Sec. 9. NEW SECTION . 161H.1 Definitions. 6 1. “Department” means the department of agriculture and land 7 stewardship. 8 2. “Division” means the division of soil conservation and 9 water quality created within the department pursuant to section 10 159.5. 11 3. “Fund” means the healthy soils and watersheds initiative 12 fund created pursuant to section 161H.2. 13 4. “Healthy soils practice” means an agricultural practice 14 that improves the health of soil, including but not limited to 15 consideration of depth of topsoil horizons, water infiltration 16 rate, water holding capacity, organic matter content, nutrient 17 content, bulk density, biological activity, biological and 18 microbiological diversity, and minimizing of bare ground. 19 5. “Initiative” means the healthy soils and watersheds 20 initiative created in section 161H.3. 21 6. “Soil health” means the overall composition and fertility 22 of soil, including the amount of organic matter in and 23 water-holding capacity of the soil; and the continued capacity 24 of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains 25 plants, animals, and humans, and that supports the production 26 of diverse food, fiber, and other agricultural crops. 27 7. “Soil health assessment” means a suite of soil-health 28 indicator measures, including but not limited to soil organic 29 matter, soil structure, infiltration and bulk density, water 30 holding capacity, microbial biomass, and soil respiration. 31 8. “Watershed health” means the continued capacity of 32 surface water and groundwater sources to function as a vital 33 living ecosystem that is resilient to drought and storm events 34 and that sustains plants, animals, and humans. 35 -4- LSB 5663YH (7) 88 da/ns 4/ 8
H.F. 2346 Sec. 10. NEW SECTION . 161H.2 Healthy soils and watersheds 1 initiative fund. 2 1. A healthy soils and watersheds initiative fund is created 3 in the state treasury under the control of the department. 4 2. The fund is composed of moneys appropriated by the 5 general assembly to the fund and moneys available to and 6 obtained or accepted by the department from the United States, 7 the state, or any other source for placement in the fund. 8 3. Moneys in the fund are appropriated to the division 9 and shall be used exclusively by the division to support the 10 healthy soils and watersheds initiative created in section 11 161H.3, and shall not require further special authorization by 12 the general assembly. 13 4. a. The moneys in the fund are not subject to 14 section 8.33 and shall not be transferred, used, obligated, 15 appropriated, or otherwise encumbered except as provided in 16 this section. 17 b. Notwithstanding section 12C.7, subsection 2, interest or 18 earnings on moneys in the fund shall be credited to the fund. 19 Sec. 11. NEW SECTION . 161H.3 Healthy soils and watersheds 20 initiative. 21 1. A healthy soils and watersheds initiative is created in 22 the department to be administered by the division. 23 2. The initiative is a voluntary program to assist in 24 furthering the purposes of preserving, optimizing, and 25 improving soil health, watershed health, biodiversity, and 26 wildlife habitat in the state. 27 3. The division shall administer the initiative to 28 the extent that funding is available. The division shall 29 administer the initiative in consultation and coordination 30 with the department of natural resources and soil and water 31 conservation districts. 32 4. In administering the initiative, the division shall 33 support activities that enhance soil health and watershed 34 health by doing any of the following: 35 -5- LSB 5663YH (7) 88 da/ns 5/ 8
H.F. 2346 a. (1) Controlling soil erosion and sedimentation, 1 including by keeping soil covered or minimizing soil 2 disturbance and external inputs. The division shall support 3 conservation tillage or no-till, cover-cropping, planned 4 grazing, integrated crop-livestock systems, integrated pest 5 management, nutrient best management practices, and those 6 practices described in the most recent field office technical 7 guide published by the United States department of agriculture. 8 (2) Increasing the quantity of healthy soils. 9 (3) Maximizing the presence of living roots. 10 b. Improving water quality and reliable water availability, 11 including by supporting activities that do any of the 12 following: 13 (1) Manage nitrogen and phosphorus applied to fields 14 to minimize nutrient runoff and reduce downstream nutrient 15 loading. 16 (2) Avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff, while 17 maintaining agricultural productivity. 18 (3) Manage water runoff and drainage water for improved 19 local and downstream water quality. 20 (4) Improve water infiltration rates and water holding 21 capacities of soils for improved stormwater management and 22 flood control, drought resilience, and groundwater supply. 23 c. Integrating animals into land and water management, 24 including for use by grazing animals, birds, beneficial 25 insects, or keystone species such as earthworms. 26 5. The division shall by rule establish criteria for 27 persons to participate in the initiative. A participant may 28 include any person determined by the division who will further 29 the purposes of the initiative as described in subsection 2, 30 including but not limited to any of the following: 31 a. A person holding a legal or equitable interest in land 32 that is used for farming, regardless of whether the land is 33 located within a city. 34 b. An entity structured and operated on a cooperative 35 -6- LSB 5663YH (7) 88 da/ns 6/ 8
H.F. 2346 basis pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §1381(a), if the entity meets the 1 definitional requirements of a cooperative association as 2 provided in 12 U.S.C. §1141j(a) or an association as provided 3 in 7 U.S.C. §291. 4 6. The division may support an activity by providing 5 financial incentives in the form of a grant, loan, or on a 6 cost-share basis. 7 7. The initiative may be used to establish soil and water 8 conservation practices as provided in chapter 161A, the 9 development of soil health assessments, and efforts to further 10 the education, training, employment, income, productivity, or 11 retention of persons working or aspiring to work in occupations 12 associated with healthy soils practices. 13 8. In awarding financial incentives, the division shall 14 provide a preference to an individual belonging to a socially 15 disadvantaged farmer or rancher as defined in 7 U.S.C. 16 § 2279(a). 17 Sec. 12. NEW SECTION . 161H.4 Report. 18 By January 10 of each year, the division shall prepare 19 and submit a report to the governor and general assembly 20 regarding receipts and expenditures of the fund. The report 21 shall include information regarding the initiative, including 22 demonstrated progress in furthering its purposes. 23 Sec. 13. EFFECTIVE DATE. This Act, being deemed of 24 immediate importance, takes effect upon enactment. 25 EXPLANATION 26 The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with 27 the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly. 28 This bill creates a healthy soils and watersheds initiative 29 (initiative) administered by the division of soil conservation 30 and water quality (division) created within the department 31 of agriculture and land stewardship. The purposes of the 32 initiative include preserving, optimizing, and improving soil 33 health, watershed health, biodiversity, and wildlife habitat. 34 Soil health refers to the overall composition of soil, its 35 -7- LSB 5663YH (7) 88 da/ns 7/ 8
H.F. 2346 water-holding capacity, and its capacity to function as a vital 1 living ecosystem. Watershed health refers to the capacity of 2 surface water and groundwater sources to function as a vital 3 living ecosystem. 4 The division is required, to the extent that funding is 5 available, to support measures that further the purposes of 6 the initiative, including controlling soil erosion, improving 7 water quality and reliable water availability, and integrating 8 animals into land and water management practices. The bill 9 authorizes the division to support activities by use of 10 financial incentives in the form of a grant, loan, or on a 11 cost-share basis. Financial incentives may be used to assist 12 in the development of soil health assessments, and to further 13 efforts of persons interested in occupations associated with 14 healthy soils practices. Activities are supported by a healthy 15 soils and watersheds initiative fund. The division is required 16 to prepare an annual report for submission to the governor and 17 general assembly. 18 The bill amends a number of provisions in Code chapter 161A, 19 providing soil and water conservation practices and erosion 20 control practices administered by the division, the state soil 21 conservation and water quality committee, and commissioners of 22 soil and water conservation districts. The bill requires that 23 at least two members of the committee have experience using 24 healthy soils practices. 25 The bill takes effect upon enactment. 26 -8- LSB 5663YH (7) 88 da/ns 8/ 8