Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HB5224
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Full Text of HB5224  102nd General Assembly




State of Illinois
2021 and 2022


Introduced 1/31/2022, by Rep. Sonya M. Harper


New Act

    Creates the Healthy Soil Act. Creates the Healthy Soil Program to be administered by the Department of Agriculture with the purpose of promoting and supporting farming and ranching systems and other forms of land management that increase soil organic matter, aggregate stability, microbiology, and water retention to improve health, yield, and profitability of the soils in the State. Provides that the Healthy Soil Program shall be composed of a healthy soil assessment and education program, a healthy soil grants program, and other programs established by the Department to accomplish the purposes of the Act. Sets forth requirements of the Department in administering the Program. Provides for use of funds appropriated to the Department to administer the Program.

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1    AN ACT concerning agriculture.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Healthy Soil Act.
6    Section 5. Definitions. As used in this Act:
7    "Champion" means a land manager that is declared a soil
8health champion due to the land manager's excellence in
9applying and promoting soil health principles, as modeled by
10the soil health champion program of the national association
11of conservation districts.
12    "Department" means the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
13    "Eligible entity" means an entity with proven land
14management capacity to support healthy soil.
15    "Healthy soil" means soil that enhances its continuing
16capacity to function as a biological system, increases its
17organic matter, and improves its structure and water-holding
18and nutrient-holding capacity.
19    "Program" means the Healthy Soil Program created by this
21    "Soil health principle" means a principle that promotes
22soil health in a given environment and includes:
23        (1) keeping soil covered;



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1        (2) minimizing soil disturbance on cropland and
2    minimizing external inputs;
3        (3) maximizing biodiversity;
4        (4) maintaining a living root; and
5        (5) integrating animals into land management,
6    including grazing animals, birds, beneficial insects, or
7    keystone species such as earthworms.
8    "Supported method" means a method that is based upon soil
9health principles and is scientifically supported to promote
10healthy soil.
11    "Technical assistance" means assistance provided to a
12farmer or rancher to achieve the purpose of this Act and
13includes outreach, education, financial assistance, and
14assistance with project planning, project design, grant
15applications, project implementation, or project reporting.
16    "Technical assistance provider" means a local, State,
17federal, tribal, or educational entity with demonstrated
18technical expertise in designing and implementing agricultural
19management practices that contribute to healthy soils.
20    Section 10. Healthy Soil Program created; purpose.
21    (a) The Healthy Soil Program is created in the Department.
22The Department shall administer the Program.
23    (b) The Purpose of the Program is to promote and support
24farming and ranching systems and other forms of land
25management that increase soil organic matter, aggregate



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1stability, microbiology, and water retention to improve the
2health, yield, and profitability of the soils of the State.
3    Section 15. Soil assessment and education; grants;
4Department duties.
5    (a) The Program shall be composed of:
6        (1) a healthy soil assessment and education program;
7        (2) a healthy soil grants program; and
8        (3) other programs established by the Department to
9    accomplish the purposes of this Act.
10    (b) In administering the healthy soil assessment and
11education program, the Department shall:
12        (1) work through technical assistance providers or
13    eligible entities to:
14            (A) encourage farmers, ranchers, and land managers
15        to undertake voluntary soil health measurements;
16            (B) raise awareness about desirable soil health
17        characteristics;
18            (C) facilitate on-site, producer-led workshops and
19        training sessions to promote and engender soil health
20        stewardship; and
21            (D) complete a baseline soil health assessment by
22        testing the organic matter, water infiltration rate,
23        microbiology, and aggregate stability of soils, in
24        addition to analyzing phospholipids and monitoring
25        soil cover;



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1        (2) establish a statewide network of champions to
2    promote soil health stewardship, offer guidance to
3    producers and land managers, and encourage teamwork;
4        (3) create a program to provide ongoing training in
5    soil health stewardship and workshop facilitation for
6    champions and eligible entities;
7        (4) in collaboration with technical assistance
8    providers, sponsor soil health workshops and training
9    sessions at research centers and learning sites throughout
10    the State; and
11        (5) educate students and the public about the
12    importance of soil health stewardship.
13    (c) In administering the healthy soil grant program, the
14Department shall:
15        (1) award grants to eligible entities to provide
16    technical assistance to producers and land managers in
17    advancing soil health principles and implementing
18    supported methods;
19        (2) develop a user-friendly grant program application
20    and application and reporting processes;
21        (3) develop criteria for the award of grants, under
22    which grants shall be awarded equitably and priority may
23    be given to eligible entities serving young producers,
24    veterans, and small farms or ranches, or to projects that
25    benefit economically or socially disadvantaged
26    communities; and



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1        (4) ensure that grant funds are used only to advance
2    soil health and soil health stewardship.
3    (d) The Department shall encourage producer, land manager,
4landowner, and interagency collaboration in the management of
5healthy soils and shall:
6        (1) work with technical assistance providers to
7    advance soil health stewardship across private, State, and
8    federal lands by fostering collaboration among producers,
9    land managers, and landowners; and
10        (2) conduct outreach to producers and land managers to
11    promote the Program and other federal, State, or local
12    grant opportunities that support and promote healthy
13    soils.
14    (e) In administering the Program, the Department shall
15support local economic growth in the State and shall:
16        (1) identify ways to increase the generation and use
17    of compost to build healthy soils;
18        (2) to the extent permitted by the Procurement Code,
19    prioritize in-State sourcing of the resources needed for
20    the Program, including testing resources, compost, seeds,
21    fencing supplies, and equipment; and
22        (3) support the emerging market for food grown in the
23    State under management for healthy soils.
24    (f) The Department may adopt rules to implement this Act.
25    Section 20. Use of appropriated funds. Funds appropriated



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1to the Department to administer the Program may be used for:
2    (a) the healthy soil grant program;
3    (b) the healthy soil assessment and education program;
4    (c) promotion and outreach;
5    (d) Department staffing support;
6    (e) capacity building for eligible entities;
7    (f) soil health research;
8    (g) travel and reimbursement of other expenses in
9accordance with applicable law; and
10    (h) other expenditures as determined by the Department to
11be necessary to support the overall effective administration
12of the Program.