New York Policy Page

Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act

Dates:

  • 02/16/2021 Introduced
  • 05/25/2021 Passed Assembly unanimously
  • 06/08/2021 Passed Senate

Legislation: 

A05386/S4722

Sponsor/s: 

  • Assemblywoman Donna A Lupardo
  • With co-sponsors Barrett, Kelles, Gallagher, Thiele, Otis, Gottfried, Simon, Sillitti, Glick, Lavine, Angelino, Davila, Zinerman, Jackson, Rosenthal L, Perry, Santabarbara, Buttenschon, Fahy, Griffin, Colton, Blankenbush, Norris

Description: 

The Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act establishes the voluntary Soil Health Program to assist producers in urban, suburban and rural areas in improving the health of their soil. 

It also establishes the Climate Resilient Farming Initiative in order to promote practical information and soil health research and encourage farmers to reduce the effects of farming on climate change. Addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation, the initiative strives to improve and maintain water management systems as well as soil health and farm resilience.

Soil Health Definition:

Soil health is defined as “soils  that  have the continuing capacity to function as a vital, living ecosystem  that sustains plants, animals, and humans.”

The act also lists the benefits of soil health to include: “supporting the production of food, feed, fiber, and fuel; facilitating infiltration, storage and filtration of water and protecting water quality; enhanced nutrient-holding capacity and nutrient  cycling; providing habitat for diverse soil organisms; enhanced resilience to drought, extreme precipitation events, temperature extremes,  pests, diseases and other stresses; breaking down harmful chemicals; reducing agricultural impacts on, and mitigating the impact on agriculture of, global climate change; and sequestering carbon and net long-term greenhouse gas benefits.”

Stated Goals:

The Healthy Soil Initiative aims to 

  • improve “long term soil productivity, efficiency, resiliency and profitability of farming”
  • ensure that “soil is conserved as a living ecosystem managed to provide nutrients for the growth of agricultural plants and animals and a healthy, affordable food supply”
  • and address agriculture’s impacts on climate change.

Program Required Measurements:

TBD: the act states that “standards should include soil quality  indicators  for biological, physical, and chemical properties of soil and reflect the latest scientific advancements.”

Tools: 

N/A

Funding Source:

The act does not specify any funding.

Funding Type:  

None specified.

Practices eligible for funding: 

Eligible for funding are “agricultural and land management practices that improve the function of soils through actions that follow the principles of: minimizing soil disturbance from soil preparation; maximizing soil vegetation cover; maximizing the diversity of beneficial soil  organisms; maximizing presence of living roots; and integrating animals into land management.”

Specifically listed are:

  • conservation tillage or no-till
  • cover-cropping
  • precision nitrogen and phosphorous application
  • planned rotational grazing
  • Integrated crop-livestock systems
  • Agroforestry
  • perennial crops
  • integrated pest management
  • nutrient best management practices.

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking process:

The department is directed to solicit stakeholder input that includes the state Soil and Water Conservation Committee and USDA/NRCS as well as scientists and agricultural producers including historically marginalized producers, in order to develop voluntary standards and objectives for the program.

State Universities & Researchers: 

Cornell University, New York Soil Health

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:

Education & Advocacy Groups:

A broad coalition of environmental and agricultural organizations, including Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY (NOFA-NY) and American Farmland Trust, supported the legislation.

Lessons Learned:

N/A

Media:

New York State Legislature Passes the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act, Cornell University Blog June 14, 2021


The Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program

Dates:

Passed October 9th, 2015. Part of Governor Cuomo’s 2015 Opportunity Agenda (no number)

Legislation:

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2015 Opportunity Agenda

Sponsor/s:

New York Governor 

Description:

Governor Cuomo launched the Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program as part of his membership commitment to the United States Climate Alliance. It became the first statewide program that combines water and soil management approaches to create holistic on-farm climate adaptation development.  

Through the Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program, County Soil and Water Conservation Districts apply for the competitive grants on behalf of farmers. Projects can focus on reducing carbon footprints, saving energy, improving soil health, increasing irrigation capacity and emphasizing water management to mitigate the effects of drought, as well as heavy rainfall and flooding, on crops and livestock. The program is administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and funded through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund

Soil Health Definition:

N/A

Stated Goals:

  • To reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change (mitigation) and to increase the resiliency of New York State farms in the face of a changing climate (adaptation).

Program Required Measurements:

  • Unknown

Tools & Guidance:

Funding Source/s:

Funding Type/s:

  • Grant program

Practices Eligible for Funding:

  • Applications must involve implementing practices supporting one of the following: 
    • Agricultural waste storage cover and flare systems
      • Waste Storage and Transfer System
      • Manure and Agricultural Waste Treatment System
      • Nutrient Management System – Cultural
    • Water management
      • Riparian Buffer System
      • Stream Corridor and Shoreline Management System
      • Erosion Control System – Structural
      • Irrigation Water Management System
      • Access Control System
      • Prescribed Rotational Grazing System
    • Systems that enhance soil health 
      • Soil Conservation System – Cultural (Note: cover crop practices will be awarded on a per acre basis
      • for a three year term)
      • Erosion Control System – Structural
      • Prescribed Rotational Grazing System
      • Riparian Buffer System

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process

  • The process occurs within the NY Agricultural Environmental Management framework (coordinated by Soil and Water Conservation Committee). County Soil and Water Conservation Districts apply for the competitive grants on behalf of farmers.

State Universities & Researchers:

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:

Education & Advocacy Groups

Lessons Learned

  • How it got through: Governor Cuomo became a member of the U.S. Climate Alliance, and statewide action followed his membership to ensure he included agricultural sectors in his climate planning. American Farmland Trust led the effort to write a statewide joint statement between main agricultural interest groups, which can be found in the letter above published by the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA- NY), sent to send directly to Governor Cuomo.  Strong support from the governor led to consistency in grant program funding from 2015-present. 
  • Positive Attribute: The grant program, as an agricultural resilience State plan, takes a whole-ecosystem management approach: the program addresses the connection between rainwater retention, drought, and soil health, rather than approaching these two interconnected issues separately. 
  • General lessons for grant programs: 
  • Don’t hold grant applications during the growing season because farmers won’t have time to apply.
  • Small farms are often more economically efficient per acre in terms of environmental services and simultaneously often have a more difficult time acquiring upfront capital or labor for implementation

Media

Maps:

Back to Top

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NOT PASSED: The Carbon Farming Act

Dates: 

First introduced as Assembly Bill A3281  in 2017-2018 legislative session.

Reintroduced  as Assembly Bill A 02718 in the 2018-2019 legislative session

Legislation:

Assembly Bill A 02718

Sponsor/s:

Multi-Sponsored by:

Description:

The Bill would create a carbon farming pilot program to incentivize farmers to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere and sequester it in the soil by adopting different soil management practices. The Bill would create a Carbon Farming Tax Credit and the program would be created and overseen by The New York Department of Agriculture.

Soil Health Definition:

  • N/A

Stated Goals:

  • To encourage farmers to further sequester and mitigate carbon by promoting soil and vegetation management strategies
  • To increase agricultural yields soil health, improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 

Program Required Measurements:

  • To be determined 

Tools & Guidance:

Funding Source/s:

  • To be determined 

Funding Type/s:

  • Tax credit 

Practices Eligible for Funding:

  • To be determined 

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking process

  • To be determined

State Universities & Researchers: 

  • Cornell Institute for Climate-Smart SolutionsDavid Wolfe, a professor of plant and soil ecology at Cornell, is supporting Assemblywoman Barrett in her development of the Act. Wolfe is a co-author of the New York Soil Health Roadmap, which lays out the benefits of soil management practices, but also why they haven’t been more widely adopted at this point.  (Land-grant university)

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:

Lessons Learned:

N/A

Media :

N/A


Last updated 8/18/21


Questions?

Contact NewYork@healthysoilspolicy.org