Amendments relating to Natural Resource Conservation Districts
Introduced January 12, 2021
Signed into law April 7, 2021
This bill amends existing Arizona statute pertaining to the powers and duties of the state’s Natural Resource Conservation Districts to include creation and administration of a Soil Health Program “that promotes implementation of soil health practices, research projects, demonstration projects, educational projects or other activities”.
It also directs districts to increase public awareness of soil health practices statewide.
Soil Health Definition:
“To promote the continuing capacity for soil to function as a vital living biological system that sustains plants, animals and humans, increased soil organic matter, improved soil structure, water-holding and nutrient-holding capacity or nutrient cycling.”
Program Required Measurements:
Funding is provided through the Conservation Districts. In addition, districts can accept “donations, gifts and contributions” from multiple sources.
Practices eligible for funding:
State Universities & Researchers:
Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:
Education & Advocacy Groups:
- Arizona Association of Conservation Districts
- Arizona Farm Bureau
- Arizona Farm Bureau Federation
- Agribusiness and Water Council of Arizona
- Arizona Cattle Growers Association
- Arizona Farm and Ranch Group
- Arizona Mining Association
- The Arizona Association of Conservation Districts provided a first draft of the bill and joined forces with the Farm Bureau in contacting the sponsor.
- Coalition building was central to the organizing effort. The Farm Bureau was integral in getting the bill through with help from additional supporters.
- Focus outreach on educating legislators and agricultural organizations about the importance of a soil health program for producers.
- The Agricultural Resilience Act played a big role in making the case for getting a state soil health program in place to receive potential federal funds. This argument –to open up federal funds– proved to be the most persuasive.
- Be prepared to try different angles, e.g. writing soil health into existing programs or statute for conservation districts, or creating a whole new bill.
- Connect with other states that have soil health programs or are working on similar bills. The national movement for soil health is very supportive and people are happy to help with anything from drafting language to giving encouragement.
- To build support and grow the coalition, reach out to everyone and anyone you know working on soil health, ask for connections and follow up!
- The political process can be slow and frustrating, but don’t give up.
Last updated 5/3/21