Virginia Healthy Soils Policy

Legislative Status Update

Updates in 2023


Updates in 2022

HB828 [LS], Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program; includes soil health plan as option to be eligible for program – enacted 2/14/2022

Updates in 2021


Amendments to Agricultural Best Practices Tax Credit


Agricultural Best Practices Tax Credit established in 1998
Amendments signed into law on March 11, 2021


SB1162 / HB1763


Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.


The Virginia Agricultural BMP Tax Credit Program began in 1998. It incentivizes farmers to voluntarily apply best management practices (BMPs) in support of Virginia’s nonpoint source pollution water quality objectives. In order to be eligible for the tax credit, a resource management plan is required, which has to be approved by the local Soil and Water Conservation District. Districts are also tasked with validating the implementation of BMPs by farmers.

The 2021 amendment moves eligibility criteria for BMPs to the annually updated Virginia Agricultural BMP Manual, aligning tax credit rates with the rates offered for eligible practices under the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program.

The amendment increases the amount of the income tax credit for eligible BMPs from 25% to 50% to be applied to the first $100,000 expended in implementing these practices.

The bill retains a tax credit for 25% of expenses made for all other agricultural best management practices that are not eligible for the enhanced credit rate but increases the maximum amount of expenses to which one can apply the 25% credit from $70,000 to $100,000. 

The maximum amount of credit an agricultural producer may claim is increased from $17,500 to $75,000 per year but may not exceed the total state income tax obligation. The aggregate amount of all individual and corporate credits claimed is capped at a total of $2M per year. 

The bill sunsets the existing agricultural best management practices tax credits after the taxable year 2024.

Soil Health Definition:


Stated Goals:

To “provide a significant improvement to water quality in the state’s streams and rivers and the Chesapeake Bay and is consistent with other state and federal programs that address agricultural, nonpoint source pollution management.”

Program Required Measurements:

Agricultural producers must have a conservation plan approved by their soil and water conservation district (SWCD) in order to be eligible for the tax credit.


Funding Source:

Funding Type:  

Income tax refund

Practices eligible for funding: 

The Virginia Agricultural BMP Manual lists agricultural best management practices eligible. It is updated and published annually prior to July 1 by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The 2021 Manual lists:

Agencies Involved:

Department of Conservation and Recreation

Rulemaking process:


State Universities & Researchers: 

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:

Education & Advocacy Groups:

Lessons Learned:



Last Update 01/22/2024