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Soil Health Round-Up

Health Soils Legislation MapEPA is banning one of the nastiest of synthetic pesticides! We have campaigned against these for decades – food crop uses of chlorpyrifos. We are also closing in on neonicotinoids. Soil health bills have been passed (or are close to passing) in all

the NOFA chapter states, though none of our state bills compare to the $5.35 million allocated for soil health in Minnesota! Much of this report comes from the regular updates that Steven Keleti sends

to the NOFA IC policy committee. Steven is the national healthy soils and ecosystems services angel who provides support and encouragement for groups like NOFA all over the country. Most of our chapters are members of the National Health Soils Policy Network, a group of farmer-centered organizations, where we exchange information, strategies and lessons learned, get small grants to assist in this work, and generally support and encourage one another in passing policies that incentivize agricultural practices with climate benefits, in particular, those that build healthy soils.

Connecticut: Two bills combine to establish a soil health program:

HB6496, An Act Concerning Certain Soil-related Initiatives; includes soil health as part of soil conservation — passed June 5th, became law on June 16th without the signature of the governor.  From state done on soil health. Additionally, it adds soil health to the erosion and sediment control statute, meaning that soil health measures can be required during construction and site stabilization. This is a major change.

HB6441, An Act Concerning Climate Change Adaptation; includes a definition of “ecosystem services” that includes “supporting services such as soil formation and nutrient cycling”, which should mean support for soil health — passed June 7th, became law on June 23rd without the signature of the governor.  From state stakeholders: Legislation adds

3 major sections: 1) enables the creation of stormwater authorities and includes language on naturebased solutions/ecosystem services; 2) updates the flood and erosion control statute to include similar language; 3) most importantly, expands the authority of the CT Green Bank beyond supporting clean energy to include carbon offsets, ecosystem services and environmental infrastructure. The CT Green Bank folks are talking about soils and soil health as fitting right into their programs.  So there is now a structure in place for funding of soil health initiatives as they relate to carbon offsets and ecosystem services as infrastructure and also to fund direct payments for such services. The CT Green Bank is now set up to take advantage of any program that USDA develops along these lines.

Massachusetts: Healthy Soils bill S.2404 was signed into law by Governor Baker in January 2021. The bill creates a Healthy Soils Program within the MA State Commission for Conservation of Soil, Water & Related Resources. NOFA/Mass, working with legislative allies, succeeded in getting supplemental funding of $150,000 for the program. The bill defines healthy soils, requires the development of a HS program, and establishes a HS fund (although does not provide dedicated funding for it).

New Hampshire: The New Hampshire Healthy Soils bill HB199 was signed into law by Gov. Sununu on July 30th.

The law includes changes to RSA 432:16 that essentially allow each of the 10 conservation districts