Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HB2573
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Full Text of HB2573  103rd General Assembly




State of Illinois
2023 and 2024


Introduced 2/15/2023, by Rep. Lance Yednock


New Act

    Creates the Agricultural and Natural Resources Legacy Act. Creates the Agricultural and Natural Resources Legacy Fund as a separate fund in the State treasury to be managed by the Department of Agriculture. Provides that from the Fund, moneys shall be made available in each fiscal year for grants to qualified easement holdings having an application which has been reviewed by the Department of Agriculture and approved by the Agricultural Legacy Council. Creates the Agricultural Legacy Council to annually review and approve award grants recommended by the Department of Agriculture, review and approve rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture for administration of the program, and review outcomes of the program and advise the Department of Agriculture of changes in the program or rules to ensure success of the program in achieving the intent of the Act.

LRB103 27253 RLC 53624 b





HB2573LRB103 27253 RLC 53624 b

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
5Agricultural and Natural Resources Legacy Act.
6    Section 5. Legislative findings and intent. The General
7Assembly finds all of the following:
8        (1) That the preservation of farmland is important for
9    current and future agricultural production in this State,
10    including the production of food and other products needed
11    to sustain the life, health, and welfare of the people of
12    this State.
13        (2) That the preservation of farmland is important for
14    the current and future State economy and for the current
15    and future environment of this State.
16        (3) That establishment of agricultural conservation
17    easements, as provided in this Act, serve important public
18    purposes of statewide significance.
19        (4) The Agricultural Areas Conservation and Protection
20    Act provides that it is the policy of the State to
21    conserve, protect, and to encourage the development and
22    improvement of its agricultural lands for the production
23    of food and other agricultural products and to conserve



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1    and protect agricultural lands as valued natural and
2    ecological resources that provide needed open spaces for
3    clean air sheds as well as aesthetic purposes.
4        (5) The Illinois Farmland Preservation Act provides
5    that conversion and loss of agricultural land has
6    diminished Illinois cropland base and affects
7    environmental quality. The supply of land most suitable
8    for farming is finite. Conversion of this land to urban
9    development and other non-farm uses reduces future food
10    production capability and may ultimately undermine
11    agriculture as a major economic activity in Illinois.
12        (6) The intent of this Act is to ensure permanent
13    conservation of farmland in order to protect Illinois's
14    agricultural economy, the ecological benefits and
15    associated natural habitat provided by agricultural lands
16    and activities, and community character enhanced by
17    agricultural and natural landscapes by:
18            (A) incentivizing farmland owners to voluntarily
19        protect their farms;
20            (B) facilitating the transition of farms under
21        development pressure to next generation farmers;
22            (C) increasing the supply of locally grown food in
23        the State of Illinois; and
24            (D) facilitating utilization of federal and local
25        funds to benefit Illinois's farmland and natural
26        resources.



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1    Section 10. Definitions. In this Act:
2    "Agricultural conservation easement" means a nonpossessory
3interest of a holder in real property within Illinois imposing
4limitations or affirmative obligations, the purposes of which
5include retaining or protecting agricultural production
6capability and natural, scenic, habitat, or open-space values
7of real property.
8    "Application" means any application seeking moneys from
9the Agricultural and Natural Resources Fund.
10    "Cost of acquisition" means all out-of-pocket direct costs
11of activities incurred in connection with the acquisition,
12processing, recording, and documentation of an agricultural
13conservation easement, such as appraisals, land surveys, title
14verification, and closing, which may be required by applicable
15State laws and local ordinances, or otherwise, in order to
16establish a conservation easement on real property; however,
17such costs shall not include any costs incurred by a holder for
18staffing, overhead, or operations.
19    "Qualified easement holder" means a State agency, federal
20agency, county, municipality, or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
21organization with experience acquiring, whether through
22purchase, donation or transfer, an agricultural or other
23conservation easement.
24    "Qualified farmland" means agricultural land in an
25undeveloped state or that has been developed only to the



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1extent consistent with agricultural production, including row
2crops, livestock, nurseries, orchards, or pastures.
3    Section 15. Establishment of the Agricultural and Natural
4Resources Legacy Fund. The Agricultural and Natural Resources
5Legacy Fund shall be established as a separate fund in the
6State treasury to be managed by the Department of Agriculture,
7separate and distinct from the General Revenue Fund. Interest
8earned by the Agricultural and Natural Resources Fund shall be
9credited to the fund. Such funds shall not lapse to the General
10Revenue Fund. Such funds shall be used to support the
11protection and conservation of agricultural land and shall be
12used to supplement, not supplant, Department of Agriculture
14    The Agricultural and Natural Resources Fund consists of:
15        (1) annual appropriations by the General Assembly to
16    the fund;
17        (2) public or private grants, gifts, donations, or
18    contributions dedicated to the fund for farmland
19    conservation;
20        (3) funds from any other source, including proceeds
21    from the sale of bonds, State, federal, or private
22    mitigation funds, or funds from any other local, State, or
23    federal program that may be dedicated to the fund for
24    farmland conservation; and
25        (4) revenue derived from the sale of land or other



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1    assets donated or bequeathed to the fund.
2    Section 20. Grants; conditions of eligibility; permissible
3use of funds. From within the Agricultural and Natural
4Resources Legacy Fund, moneys shall be made available in each
5fiscal year for grants to any qualified easement holder having
6an application that has been reviewed by the Department of
7Agriculture and approved by the Agricultural Legacy Council,
8as provided in this Section.
9    As a condition of eligibility for any such grant, an
10application shall have as its primary purpose advancing
11farmland conservation and supporting active farming and food
12production in Illinois. Award grants may include the
14        (1) Payment to qualified easement holders for the
15    purchase of agricultural conservation easements on
16    qualified farmland.
17        (2) Payment for the costs of acquisition related to
18    the purchase of agricultural conservation easements
19    approved by the program.
20    The Agricultural and Natural Resources Heritage Fund shall
21be used to pay administrative costs of this program by the
22Department of Agriculture, annually not to exceed 5% of the
23annual allocation of moneys to the Fund.
24    Section 25. Administration; prioritization of farmland.



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1The Department of Agriculture shall have primary
2responsibility for administration of the Agricultural and
3Natural Resources Fund program, under the direction and advice
4of the Agricultural Legacy Council, as provided in this Act.
5The Department shall:
6        (1) give priority to applications that protect
7    agricultural lands that are susceptible to development,
8    including subdivision and fragmentation;
9        (2) adopt a scoring process to be used in evaluating
10    applications that considers the following for
11    prioritization of projects:
12            (A) protecting farmland in active or planned
13        cultivation;
14            (B) preventing development or fragmentation that
15        would result in farmland loss by conversion;
16            (C) supporting transition of farmland to next
17        generation farmer owner-operators;
18            (D) leveraging local, federal, or private funding,
19        including a match requirement;
20            (E) supporting conservation priorities including
21        protection of habitat, water quality, watershed
22        conservation, climate resiliency, local conservation
23        plans, and public viewshed;
24            (F) preserving or Enhancing Soil Quality.
25        (3) ensure the following easement terms are met to be
26    eligible for funds:



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1            (A) An agricultural conservation easement shall be
2        perpetual.
3            (B) Agricultural conservation easement terms shall
4        align with existing federal and local programs to
5        maximize potential for matching funds.
6    Section 30. Authority to adopt rules. The Department of
7Agriculture shall adopt rules as necessary to implement the
8provisions of this Act on or before December 31, 2023,
9including the adoption of rules that establish a process for
10submitting and processing applications for grants. The
11Department, after consultation with the Illinois Agricultural
12Legacy Council, shall solicit applications. The Department
13shall issue each solicitation in writing and shall publish a
14notice announcing the solicitation.
15    Section 35. Establishment of the Illinois Agricultural
16Legacy Council; membership; role and duties of the Council.
17There is established the Illinois Agricultural Legacy Council
18to advise and assist the Department of Agriculture with
19administration and implementation of the program utilizing the
20criteria proposed by the Department and adopted by the
21Council. The Advisory Council shall consist of 9 members, as
23        (1) the Director of the Department of Agriculture;
24        (2) the Director of the Department of Natural



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1    Resources;
2        (3) other members appointed by the Governor as
3    follows:
4            (A) one member who operates a family farm in this
5        State;
6            (B) one member who is the designated
7        representative of a banking or lending organization
8        and who has significant experience in agricultural
9        lending;
10            (C) one member who is the designated
11        representative of a statewide agricultural
12        organization;
13            (D) one member who is a designated representative
14        of a land trust or statewide nonprofit conservation
15        organization operating in this State;
16            (E) one member who is a designated representative
17        of an educational institution with an agricultural
18        program;
19            (F) one member who is the designated
20        representative of Soil and Water Conservation
21        Districts, Illinois Extension, or the United States
22        Department of Agriculture Natural Resources
23        Conservation Services; and
24            (G) one member representing the planning
25        profession.
26    Appointed members of the council serve staggered terms of



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13 years, with 4 of the members' terms expiring on December 31
2of each odd-numbered year.
3    Appointments to and removal from the council shall be made
4by the Governor and the Director of Agriculture without regard
5to the race, color, disability, sex, religion, age, or
6national origin of the appointees.
7    The Council shall meet at least quarterly each year for
8the transaction of its business. Three-fifths of the members
9of the Council present at any board meeting shall constitute a
10quorum in order to conduct business; however, in the absence
11of a quorum, a majority of the members present may adjourn the
12meeting from time to time until a quorum shall attend. Any
13Council action or recommendation must be approved by a simple
14majority of the members of the entire Council then in office,
15unless specified otherwise in this Act.
16    The Council shall:
17        (1) annually review and approve award grants
18    recommended by the Department of Agriculture;
19        (2) review and approve rules adopted by the Department
20    of Agriculture for administration of the program; and
21        (3) review outcomes of the program and advise
22    Department of Agriculture on changes in the program or
23    rules to ensure success of the program in achieving the
24    intent of this Act.