Kentucky Healthy Soils Policy

PENDING: Healthy Soils Program

Dates:

03/02/20: Introduced in the House
03/04/20: Referred to House Committee on Natural Resources & Energy
02/23/21: Re-introduced in the House

Legislation: 

House Bill 560 (was House Bill 591 in 2020)

Sponsors: 

Description:

The bill would establish a Healthy Soils Program and a Healthy Soils Program fund in the Department for Natural Resources, Division of Conservation:

  • Require the department to provide technical advice and assistance, assist with soil health assessments and soil health plans; 
  • Provide financial assistance to incentivize soil health practices, including a low cost loan program for Kentucky farmers to adopt and implement soil health practices and a competitive grant program for local governments and schools, public, private, and charitable entities;
  • Require the director of the Division of Conservation to have experience in healthy soil practices; 
  • Require the Agriculture Water Quality Authority to promote soil restoration and include an organic agriculture organization among appointments to the authority and add healthy soil practices as a committee;
  • Add restoration, biological diversity, watershed health, and healthy soil practices to the purpose of soil and water conservation districts.

The bill includes an equity clause: “Priority for financial assistance shall be given to veteran farmers or ranchers, beginning farmers, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, as those terms are defined in 7 U.S.C. sec. 2279(a).”

Soil Health Definition:

“Soil health” means the overall composition of the soil and its continued capacity to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans;

Stated Goals:

“To promote the use of healthy soil practices by Kentucky’s farmers, both urban and rural”.

Program Required Measurements:

N/A

Tools: 

N/A

Funding Source:

The bill establishes a Healthy Soils Program fund, which can receive “appropriations from the General Assembly, grants, gifts, federal funds, or any other funds, both public and private”.

Funding Type:  

  • Competitive grants 
  • “Other types of financial incentives to local governments, schools, and public, private, and charitable entities to finance projects in furtherance of the Healthy Soils Program“ 
  • “A low cost loan program for Kentucky farmers to adopt and implement a soil health plan.”

Practices eligible for funding:

  • “Agricultural practices supported by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program that feed the soil, reduce erosion, improve soil structure, enhance nutrient cycling, and water retention by utilizing four (4) principal practices as follows: 
    • (a) Using plant diversity to improve diversity in the soil; 
    • (b) Managing soils with less disturbance to the soil; 
    • (c) Keeping plants growing year-round to feed the soil; and 
    • (d) Keeping the soil covered as much as possible;”
    • “The efficient application of chemicals and amendments on agricultural and nonagricultural land.”

Agencies Involved:

Department for Natural Resources, Division of Conservation

Rulemaking process:

The bill authorizes the Department for Natural Resources to promulgate administrative regulations to implement the Healthy Soils Program and the Healthy Soils Program fund.

State Universities & Researchers: 

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:

Education & Advocacy Groups:

Lessons Learned:

N/A

Media:

N/A


Last updated 4/13/21


Questions?

Contact Kentucky@healthysoilspolicy.org