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H.R. 1950 (106th): To amend the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 to improve the farmland protection program.

The text of the bill below is as of May 26, 1999 (Introduced).


HR 1950 IH

106th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1950

To amend the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 to improve the farmland protection program.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 26, 1999

Mr. FARR of California (for himself, Mr. GILCHREST, Mr. CONDIT, and Mr. BOEHLERT) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture


A BILL

To amend the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 to improve the farmland protection program.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. FARMLAND PROTECTION PROGRAM.

    (a) IMPROVEMENT OF EXISTING PROGRAM- Section 388 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (16 U.S.C. 3830 note; Public Law 104-127) is amended to read as follows:

‘SEC. 388. FARMLAND PROTECTION PROGRAM.

    ‘(a) DEFINITION OF ELIGIBLE ENTITY- In this section, the term ‘eligible entity’ means--

      ‘(1) any agency of any State or local government, or federally recognized Indian tribe; and

      ‘(2) any organization that--

        ‘(A) is organized for, and at all times since its formation has been operated principally for, 1 or more of the conservation purposes specified in clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of section 170(h)(4)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;

        ‘(B) is an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Code that is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of the Code; and

        ‘(C)(i) is described in section 509(a)(2) of the Code of; or

        ‘(ii) is described in section 509(a)(3) of the Code and is controlled by an organization described in section 509(a)(2) of the Code.

    ‘(b) AUTHORITY- The Secretary of Agriculture shall establish and carry out a farmland protection program under which the Secretary shall provide grants to eligible entities, to provide the Federal share of the cost of purchasing conservation easements or other interests in land with prime, unique, or other productive soil for the purpose of protecting topsoil by limiting nonagricultural uses of the land.

    ‘(c) FEDERAL SHARE- The Federal share of the cost of purchasing a conservation easement or other interest described in subsection (b) shall be not more than 50 percent.

    ‘(d) TITLE; ENFORCEMENT- Title to a conservation easement or other interest described in subsection (b) may be held, and the conservation requirements of the easement or interest enforced, by any eligible entity.

    ‘(e) STATE CERTIFICATION- The attorney general of the State in which land is located shall take such actions as are necessary to ensure that a conservation easement or other interest under this section is in a form that is sufficient to achieve the conservation purpose of the farmland protection program established under this section, the law of the State, and the terms and conditions of any grant made by the Secretary under this section.

    ‘(f) CONSERVATION PLAN- Any land for which a conservation easement or other interest is purchased under this section shall be subject to the requirements of a conservation plan to the extent that the plan does not negate or adversely affect the restrictions contained in any easement.

    ‘(g) TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE- The Secretary may use not more than 10 percent of the amount that is made available for a fiscal year under subsection (h) to provide technical assistance to carry out this section.

    ‘(h) FUNDING- For each fiscal year, the Secretary shall use not more than $55,000,000 of the funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation to carry out this section.’.

    (b) EFFECT ON EXISTING EASEMENTS- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall not affect the validity or terms of conservation easements and other interests in lands acquired under section 388 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-127; 16 U.S.C. 3830 note) before the date of the enactment of this Act.