House File 394 - Introduced HOUSE FILE 394 BY ISENHART A BILL FOR An Act relating to leases between local governments and persons 1 using land for farming. 2 BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA: 3 TLSB 1246YH (2) 89 da/ns
H.F. 394 Section 1. NEW SECTION . 161A.90 Definitions. 1 As used in this subchapter, unless the context otherwise 2 requires: 3 1. “Farming” means the same as defined in section 9H.1. 4 2. “Farming practice” includes but is not limited to a 5 decision regarding crop production, including crop types and 6 varieties to plant, cultivation and harvesting methods, and 7 the application of materials including manure and commercial 8 fertilizers, tillage, and crop rotation systems. 9 3. “Local government” means a county, city, township, school 10 district, or any special-purpose district or authority. 11 4. “Soil and water conservation practices” means the same as 12 defined in section 161A.42. 13 5. “Soil health practice” means a practice to provide for 14 the continued capacity of soil to permanently sustain plant and 15 animal life. 16 6. a. “Water quality practice” means a land use change or 17 the establishment and maintenance of a measure that limits 18 sediment or nutrients from being conveyed by surface water 19 runoff or leaching. 20 b. “Water quality practice” includes the establishment of 21 any of the following: 22 (1) A terrace. 23 (2) A cover crop that is used as part of crop rotation 24 cycle. 25 (3) A bioreactor installed as part of or connected to a 26 field drainage system. 27 (4) A wetland established as part of or connected to a crop 28 field. 29 (5) A saturated buffer. 30 (6) Cropland integrated with a prairie grass strip. 31 (7) A riparian buffer strip. 32 (8) A grassed waterway. 33 (9) An area maintained in permanent vegetation cover, 34 including perennial vegetation cover consisting of grasses or 35 -1- LSB 1246YH (2) 89 da/ns 1/ 5
H.F. 394 legumes, including but not limited to grasslands or forages. 1 (10) A wetland area if the area is mostly underwater or 2 waterlogged during the growing season and is characterized by 3 vegetation of hydric soils. 4 (11) Any other measure recognized by the division that 5 manages nutrients and reduces contributing contaminant loads to 6 receiving surface waters, including by detaining sediment-laden 7 water, reducing the volume or velocity of precipitation-induced 8 surface water, filtering sediment-laden water, or reducing 9 nutrient loss through tile drainage systems. 10 Sec. 2. NEW SECTION . 161A.91 Restrictions on leases by 11 local governments. 12 1. A local government that holds a legal or equitable 13 interest in agricultural land shall not enter into a lease 14 with another person if the person may use the agricultural 15 land for farming, unless the lease is in writing and a farm 16 unit agreement is made part of the lease. The parties to 17 the agreement shall be the lessee and the soil and water 18 conservation commissioners of the district where the land is 19 located. 20 2. The farm unit agreement shall apply to the same farm unit 21 as an applicable farm unit conservation plan or conservation 22 agreement. The agreement may be made part of a farm unit 23 conservation plan or soil conservation agreement. A farm unit 24 agreement may cover one or more farm units as specified in the 25 agreement so long as all farm units are located as part of the 26 same district. The agreement shall identify those soil and 27 water conservation practices, water quality practices, farming 28 practices, and soil health practices that best prevent soil 29 loss, manage nutrients, reduce contributing contaminant loads 30 to receiving surface water, and promote soil health. 31 3. The farm unit agreement shall be completed on forms 32 prepared by the division in consultation with the Iowa nutrient 33 research center established pursuant to section 466B.47. 34 4. The commissioners of the district shall assist the 35 -2- LSB 1246YH (2) 89 da/ns 2/ 5
H.F. 394 parties to the lease in developing a farm unit agreement. The 1 commissioners shall respond to a request by a local government 2 to develop a farm unit agreement within sixty days of receiving 3 the request. The lessee shall file the agreement with the 4 commissioners subject to their approval. The commissioners 5 shall deliver a copy of the agreement to the division. Each 6 year, an updated agreement must be approved and filed in the 7 same manner as the original agreement. 8 5. If a farm unit agreement is not filed as required in this 9 section, the lease shall be void in sixty days. 10 6. The commissioners shall inspect or cause to be inspected 11 land covered by a farm unit agreement if reasonable grounds 12 exist to believe that a failure to comply with the agreement 13 is occurring. If the commissioners determine a failure is 14 occurring, a notice of that finding shall be delivered to the 15 parties to the lease. The notice shall describe the land 16 affected and shall describe the failure. The notice shall also 17 describe the corrective action required and the time limit for 18 commencing and accomplishing such action. 19 7. If corrective action has not been commenced or 20 accomplished as described in the notice, the commissioners 21 shall issue an administrative order to the person who filed 22 the farm unit agreement. The administrative order shall 23 address the same subjects provided in the notice. However, the 24 corrective action must be commenced not more than six months 25 after the date the order is issued and must be completed not 26 more than one year after that date. 27 8. a. The commissioners shall petition the district court 28 to issue an order requiring immediate compliance with an 29 administrative order if the commissioners have determined any 30 of the following: 31 (1) The corrective action has not been commenced or 32 completed by the date specified in the administrative order. 33 (2) The corrective action has been commenced but is not 34 being performed with due diligence or in a manner that will 35 -3- LSB 1246YH (2) 89 da/ns 3/ 5
H.F. 394 reasonably result in compliance with the administrative order. 1 b. The district court may grant injunctive relief necessary 2 in order to enforce the terms and conditions of the agreement. 3 Alternatively, district court may void the lease. If a lease 4 is voided, the local government shall have any remedy available 5 to a lessor who brings an action against a lessee for the 6 wrongful termination of a lease. 7 9. This section shall not apply if the duration of the lease 8 is for less than sixty days. However, this section shall apply 9 if the local government and the same person enter into multiple 10 subsequent leases that involve the same tract of land. 11 Sec. 3. IMPLEMENTATION OF ACT. Section 25B.2, subsection 12 3, shall not apply to this Act. 13 EXPLANATION 14 The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with 15 the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly. 16 This bill requires a farm unit agreement be executed when any 17 lease is entered into by a local government and a person who 18 may use the leased land for farming purposes. The agreement 19 requires the lessee to comply with applicable soil and water 20 conservation practices, farming practices, water quality 21 practices, and soil health practices during the period of the 22 lease. The agreement must be developed in cooperation with 23 the commissioners of the soil and water conservation district 24 where the land is located who are parties to the agreement. 25 The commissioners may conduct inspections to ensure compliance 26 with the agreement and take administrative or judicial action 27 to enforce the agreement’s provisions. The bill does not apply 28 to a lease that is for less than 60 days unless the local 29 government and the same person have entered into multiple 30 subsequent leases involving the same land. 31 The bill may include a state mandate as defined in Code 32 section 25B.3. The bill makes inapplicable Code section 25B.2, 33 subsection 3, which would relieve a political subdivision from 34 complying with a state mandate if funding for the cost of 35 -4- LSB 1246YH (2) 89 da/ns 4/ 5
H.F. 394 the state mandate is not provided or specified. Therefore, 1 political subdivisions are required to comply with any state 2 mandate included in the bill. 3 -5- LSB 1246YH (2) 89 da/ns 5/ 5