senate Bill S4718A

Signed by Governor

Relates to the memberships of country agriculture and farmland protection boards; authorization to hold conservation easements and funding for agricultural projects

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed by Governor
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actions

  • 15 / Apr / 2011
    • REFERRED TO AGRICULTURE
  • 10 / Jun / 2011
    • AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO AGRICULTURE
  • 10 / Jun / 2011
    • PRINT NUMBER 4718A
  • 11 / Jun / 2011
    • COMMITTEE DISCHARGED AND COMMITTED TO RULES
  • 13 / Jun / 2011
    • ORDERED TO THIRD READING CAL.1157
  • 14 / Jun / 2011
    • PASSED SENATE
  • 14 / Jun / 2011
    • DELIVERED TO ASSEMBLY
  • 14 / Jun / 2011
    • REFERRED TO WAYS AND MEANS
  • 16 / Jun / 2011
    • SUBSTITUTED FOR A7428A
  • 16 / Jun / 2011
    • ORDERED TO THIRD READING RULES CAL.310
  • 16 / Jun / 2011
    • PASSED ASSEMBLY
  • 16 / Jun / 2011
    • RETURNED TO SENATE
  • 08 / Jul / 2011
    • DELIVERED TO GOVERNOR
  • 20 / Jul / 2011
    • SIGNED CHAP.201

Summary

Relates to the memberships of country agriculture and farmland protection boards; authorization to hold conservation easements and funding for agricultural nonpoint source abatement and control projects.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A7428A
Versions:
S4718
S4718A
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Law Section:
Agriculture and Markets Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §302, Ag & Mkts L; amd §49-0303, En Con L; amd §§9 & 11-b, Cons Dists L

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S4718A

TITLE OF BILL:

An act
to amend the agriculture and markets law, the environmental conservation
law and the soil and water conservation districts law, in relation to
the membership of county agricultural and farmland protection boards,
authorization to hold conservation easements, and funding agricultural
nonpoint source abatement and control projects

PURPOSE OF THE BILL:

The purpose of this bill is to streamline and enhance the operations
of county agricultural and farmland protection boards and soil and
water districts by: (1) providing that the chairperson of a county
soil and water conservation district may designate an employee of the
district to serve on a county agricultural and farmland protection
board in lieu of the chairperson; (2) authorizing county soil and
water conservation districts (Districts) to hold conservation
easements; and (3) clarifying the match requirements for the
Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 of the bill amends Agriculture and Markets Law (AML) §302
(1) to authorize the chairperson of a county soil and water
conservation district to designate an employee of the district to
serve on an AFPB in lieu of the chairperson.

Section 2 of the bill amends Environmental Conservation Law (ECL)
§49-0303(3) to include a county soil and water conservation district
in the definition of a "public body" for purposes of holding
conservation easements.

Section 3 of the bill adds a new subdivision 4-a to the Soil and Water
Conservation Districts Law (SWCDL) §9 to provide Districts with
authority to acquire, hold, maintain, administer and improve
conservation easements; receive income from such activity and expend
it in carrying out the purposes and provisions of the SWCDL; and
extinguish conservation easements.

Section 4 of the bill amends SWCDL § 11-b (5) to clarify that state
assistance payments for nonpoint source projects cannot exceed 87.5
percent.

EXISTING LAW:

AML §302(1) (a) authorizes a county legislative body to establish a
county agricultural and farmland protection board and provides the
conditions for membership.

ECL §49-0303(3) defines a "public body" for purposes of holding
conservation easements to mean municipal corporations; the Palisades
Interstate Park Commission and the Central Pine Barrens Joint Policy
and Planning Commission.


SWCDL §9 sets forth the powers of soil and water conservation
districts and directors

SWCDL §11-b establishes a matching grant program to fund agricultural
non-point source abatement and control projects and sets forth
project funding criteria

SWCDL § 11-b (5) requires that state assistance payments not exceed
90% of eligible costs for any specified non-point source control
project.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

This is a new proposal.

STATEMENT IN SUPPORT:

AML §302 authorizes county legislative bodies to establish county
agricultural and farmland protection boards (AFPBs) consisting of
eleven members. An AFPB has a broad range of responsibilities as it
advises the county legislative body in relation to the proposed
establishment, modification, continuation or termination of any
agricultural district; renders expert advice relating to the nature
of farming and farm resources; reviews notices of intent; approves
county agricultural and farmland protection plans;
provides recommendations as to the effect and reasonableness of
proposed actions involving the advance of public funds or
acquisitions of farmland in agricultural districts by governmental
entities; and may request that the Commissioner of Agriculture and
Markets review any state agency rule or regulation which the AFPB
identifies as affecting agricultural activities within an existing or
proposed agricultural district.
Counties are struggling with their ability to obtain a quorum at
meetings, however.
Several chairpersons of county soil and water conservation district
(SWCD) boards of directors are finding it difficult to attend AFPB
meetings. County SWCD staff is knowledgeable of the farm family, the
farm enterprise and the productivity of the soils within the county
and can provide necessary information and support to AFPBs as they
carry out their responsibilities. The proposed amendments will
facilitate greater participation on these local boards.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts are charged in statute with the
preservation of soil and water resources, including flood prevention,
erosion control, water quality, water conservation, recreational use
planning and preservation of natural resources. Districts presently
have statutory authority to own or obtain title to real property
through various means to advance these important provisions of the
Soil and Water Conservation Districts Law. Efforts to protect natural
resources for the public benefit can be greatly enhanced by adopting
legislation that gives the Districts the capacity to hold
conservation easements. These easements often include some type of
conservation plan and Districts are well-suited to monitor and ensure
compliance with the easement and plan due to their experience in
working with public and private landowners. The ability to hold
conservation easements would be a valuable tool in advancing the work
of Districts while providing a valuable option to government entities


and private landowners seeking experienced oversight of important
land resources.

The proposal also makes a necessary technical change to the SWCDL. The
SWCDL currently provides that state assistance payments for
agricultural nonpoint source abatement and control projects cannot
exceed 90 percent of eligible costs. However, since the State match
can only be increased from the current statutory maximum of 75
percent in equal proportion to the amount contributed by the
agricultural landowner or
operator, then mathematically, the maximum state contribution is
capped at 87.5 percent, rather than the 90 percent currently
referenced in the statute.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS:

None.

LOCAL IMPACT:

This bill would not impose a mandate on a county, city, town, village,
school district or special district.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

The amendments take effect upon enactment.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                 4718--A

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                             April 15, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sens. RITCHIE, SEWARD -- (at request of the Department of
  Agriculture and Markets) -- read twice and ordered printed,  and  when
  printed  to  be committed to the Committee on Agriculture -- committee
  discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted
  to said committee

AN ACT to amend the  agriculture  and  markets  law,  the  environmental
  conservation law and the soil and water conservation districts law, in
  relation  to  the  membership  of  county  agricultural  and  farmland
  protection boards, authorization to hold conservation  easements,  and
  funding agricultural nonpoint source abatement and control projects

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Paragraph (a) of subdivision 1 of section 302 of the  agri-
culture  and markets law, as amended by chapter 235 of the laws of 1995,
is amended to read as follows:
  (a) A county legislative body may establish a county agricultural  and
farmland  protection  board  which  shall  consist of eleven members, at
least four of whom shall be active farmers. At least one member of  such
board  shall  represent  agribusiness  and  one  member may represent an
organization dedicated to agricultural land  preservation.    These  six
members of the board shall reside within the county which the respective
board  serves.  The  members  of the board shall also include the chair-
person of the county soil and water  conservation  district's  board  of
directors  OR  AN  EMPLOYEE  OF  THE  COUNTY SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION
DISTRICT DESIGNATED BY THE CHAIRPERSON, a member of the county  legisla-
tive  body,  a  county  cooperative extension agent, the county planning
director and the county director of  real  property  tax  services.  The
chairperson shall be chosen by majority vote. Such board shall be estab-
lished  in  the event no such board exists at the time of receipt by the
county legislative body of a petition for the creation or review  of  an
agricultural  district  pursuant  to section three hundred three of this

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD09681-03-1

S. 4718--A                          2

article, or at the time of receipt by the county of a notice  of  intent
filing  pursuant  to  subdivision  four of section three hundred five of
this article. The members of such board shall be appointed by the chair-
person  of  the  county  legislative body, who shall solicit nominations
from farm membership organizations except for  the  chairperson  of  the
county  soil and water conservation district's board of directors OR HIS
OR HER DESIGNEE, the county planning director and director of real prop-
erty tax services, who shall serve ex officio. The members  shall  serve
without  salary,  but  the county legislative body may entitle each such
member to reimbursement for actual and necessary  expenses  incurred  in
the performance of official duties.
  S  2.  Subdivision 3 of section 49-0303 of the environmental conserva-
tion law, as amended by chapter 45 of the laws of 1997,  is  amended  to
read as follows:
  3.  "Public  body"  means the state or a municipal corporation as that
term is defined in section two of the general municipal law.  Such  term
shall  further  include  the Palisades interstate park commission [and];
the Central Pine Barrens joint planning and  policy  commission;  AND  A
SOIL  AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT AS THAT TERM IS DEFINED IN SECTION
THREE OF THE SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS LAW.
  S 3. Section 9 of the soil and water  conservation  districts  law  is
amended by adding a new subdivision 4-a to read as follows:
  (4-A)  TO  ACQUIRE,  BY  PURCHASE, EXCHANGE, GIFT, BEQUEST, DEVISE, OR
OTHERWISE, A CONSERVATION EASEMENT AS DEFINED IN SECTION 49-0303 OF  THE
ENVIRONMENTAL  CONSERVATION  LAW;  TO  HOLD,  MAINTAIN,  ADMINISTER, AND
IMPROVE, IN COMPLIANCE WITH ANY SUCH EASEMENT AND TITLE THREE OF ARTICLE
FORTY-NINE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAW, ANY CONSERVATION EASE-
MENTS ACQUIRED; TO ENFORCE ANY OF THE TERMS OF A CONSERVATION  EASEMENT,
EITHER  AS  A  HOLDER  OF  AN  ACQUIRED  EASEMENT OR UNDER A THIRD PARTY
ENFORCEMENT RIGHT, AS DEFINED IN SECTION 49-0303  OF  THE  ENVIRONMENTAL
CONSERVATION LAW, GRANTED TO THE DISTRICT IN A CONSERVATION EASEMENT; TO
RECEIVE  ANY  INCOME  FROM  THE  HOLDING,  MAINTENANCE,  ADMINISTRATION,
IMPROVEMENT OR ENFORCEMENT OF CONSERVATION EASEMENTS  AS  AUTHORIZED  IN
THIS  SUBDIVISION AND TO EXPEND SUCH INCOME IN CARRYING OUT THE PURPOSES
AND PROVISIONS OF THIS CHAPTER; AND TO EXTINGUISH ANY SUCH  CONSERVATION
EASEMENTS  IN  COMPLIANCE  WITH SUCH EASEMENT AND TITLE THREE OF ARTICLE
FORTY-NINE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAW, IN FURTHERANCE OF  THE
PURPOSES AND PROVISIONS OF THIS CHAPTER.
  S  4. Subdivision 5 of section 11-b of the soil and water conservation
districts law, as amended by chapter 413 of the laws of 1996, is amended
to read as follows:
  5. State assistance payments pursuant to this section shall be up to a
maximum of seventy-five percent of the  eligible  costs,  as  determined
pursuant  to  subdivision  four  of section 17-1409 of the environmental
conservation law, for any  specified  project.  Such  maximum  shall  be
increased  by a percentage equal to the percentage of the total eligible
costs for such specified projects that are contributed by the  owner  or
operator of agricultural land upon which such specified project is being
conducted,  provided,  however, that in no event shall the total of such
state assistance payments  exceed  [ninety]  EIGHTY-SEVEN  AND  ONE-HALF
percent of such eligible costs for any specified project.
  S 5. This act shall take effect immediately.

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