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70 ILCS 405/22.03c

    (70 ILCS 405/22.03c)
    Sec. 22.03c. Local soil health assessments. Upon the adoption of guidelines described in Section 22.03b, each soil and water conservation district shall develop annually its own soil health assessment to guide voluntary and incentive-based strategies to improve soil health. The soil health assessment shall be technically feasible and economically reasonable.
    The Department shall provide a template to the districts for the local soil health assessment, including the required information listed in this Section as well as information regarding available data and support materials collected as the guidance information listed in Section 25.
    Each district is encouraged to collaborate with other local governmental entities and local stakeholders in developing and implementing its soil health assessment. Each district shall use the guidelines provided by the Department in developing its soil health assessment.
    Upon the request of a district, the Department may assist in the preparation of the district's soil health assessment. Districts may also work collaboratively to establish joint plans to leverage existing capacity and resources most effectively.
    To carry out its assessment, a district shall identify soil health practices. The soil health assessment must consider opportunities to access, leverage, and use State and federal resources within a specific soil and water conservation district service area.
    Soil and water conservation districts may also convene producer-led dialogues to identify special initiatives or pilot projects to leverage additional resources and implement soil health practices at scale across multiple operations and land ownerships.
    In developing a soil health assessment, the soil and water conservation district shall:
        (1) evaluate existing assets, such as current
practices, current cropping systems, crop processing and market infrastructure, riparian buffers, wetlands, public lands, funding, education, research and peer-to-peer training opportunities, and existing partnerships;
        (2) consider the eligible funding categories
available through the Partners for Conservation Fund and the district's ability to advance healthy soils practices consistent with Natural Resource Conservation Service soil health principles within a soil and water conservation district service area;
        (3) determine vulnerabilities, such as runoff risk,
riparian function, stormwater, floodplains and stream impairments, and observed and predicted impacts from climate change, especially to socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and communities;
        (4) identify opportunities to conduct outreach to
agricultural producers and landowners and to develop individual soil health plans;
        (5) establish goals for achieving measurable outcomes
for soil health and farmer viability through voluntary and incentive-based activities. This includes identifying opportunities to support beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers as well as small and mid-scale farmers;
        (6) estimate 2-year funding levels needed from State,
federal and private sources in order to achieve goals; and
        (7) identify opportunities to develop partnerships
and leverage resources from local governments, utilities, and State and federal agencies.
    The Department shall identify shared goals and priorities between districts and shall assist in developing partnerships and shared funding approaches to maximize capacity and resources. Initial soil health assessments shall be submitted to the Department by September 1, 2024.
(Source: P.A. 103-494, eff. 8-4-23.)