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