(505 ILCS 80/6a) (from Ch. 5, par. 55.6a)
    Sec. 6a. Nutrient Research and Education Council. The Director is hereby authorized to ensure that distributors remit a designated fertilizer tonnage assessment to the Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) for the purpose of pursuing nutrient research and providing educational programs to ensure the adoption and implementation of practices that optimize nutrient use efficiency, ensure soil fertility, and address environmental concerns with regard to fertilizer use. The NREC may also participate in relevant demonstration and cost-share programs to enhance adoption and meet objectives of nutrient efficiency and stewardship programs supported by the NREC.
    The NREC shall be comprised of 9 voting members, 3 representing the fertilizer industry, 3 representing grower organizations, to include at least one member of the State's largest farm organization, one person representing the specialty fertilizer industry, one person representing a certified agronomy organization, and the Director or his or her designee and 4 non-voting members: 2 persons representing environmental organizations, one person representing a State or federal agriculture experiment station and the Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency or his or her designee. In the appointment of persons to the NREC, the organizations designated in this Section shall nominate, and the Director shall select from these nominations, representatives to this Council. Members of the Council shall receive no compensation for their services, and the terms of the Council members, appointment process, and conduct of the meetings shall be outlined in the bylaws established by this Council on their initial appointment by the Director and made available to the industry organizations.
    The responsibilities of the NREC are to:
        (1) prioritize nutrient research needs and solicit
research proposals to generate findings and make recommendations to the Council based on the findings;
        (2) evaluate the proposed budget for each research
project and make recommendations as necessary;
        (3) arrange for peer review of all research proposals
for scientific merit and methods;
        (4) report the findings of all research projects at
industry conferences, publish the findings and implement educational programs to apply the research recommendations in agricultural production systems and in consumer use markets where appropriate;
        (5) engage in outreach and field level trials and
educational programs with growers and consumers and publicize these events; and
        (6) where practical, cooperate with other programs
with similar goals.
    The Council shall recommend, and the Director shall set, the fertilizer tonnage assessment for the purpose of funding the NREC at no less than 50 cents per ton and no greater than $3 per ton to fund, administer, publish, and implement the research, education, and outreach programs designated each year by the Council. A minimum of 20% of the funds shall be designated for cost-share programs and on-farm demonstration programs to study and address water quality issues. The Council shall report to the Director by December 31 of each year the recommended amount of annual tonnage assessment to be collected the following year from distributors.
    Assessments collected from distributors are payable directly to the NREC on a semi-annual basis. This payment shall coincide with the reporting of the tonnage data and the remittance of the inspection fee to the Department. If the NREC assessment is not made to the Council under this Section, then the Director may rescind the license of the distributor. The NREC may enter into contracts with other entities approved by the Council for the purposes of fulfilling the objectives of the NREC.
    The NREC shall publish annually a financial and activities report, including amount of funds collected and expenditures for nutrient programs. The NREC shall be audited at least annually by a certified public accountant and the audit made available within 30 days after its completion to the Director and each Council member for dissemination to their respective organizations.
(Source: P.A. 97-960, eff. 8-15-12.)