AB 552 (Bennett) Regional Farmer Equipment and Cooperative Resources Assistance Program

Farmers in Rockingham County, Virginia check the results of no-till farming in their fields on September 9, 2008, as part of their participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI).

Under existing law, the Department of Conservation administers various programs relating to agriculture including the California Farmland Conservancy Program. Existing law authorizes the program to offer financial assistance, including grants or contracts, for projects and activities on agricultural lands that support agricultural conservation and sustainable land management, including, among other projects and activities, the acquisition of agricultural conservation easements or fee title to protect the land’s agricultural use or capacity, and technical assistance to develop projects, prepare applications, and implement projects.

This bill would establish the Regional Farmer Equipment and Cooperative Resources Assistance Program in the department. The bill would require the department, in administering the program, to provide technical assistance and grants in order to support regional farm equipment sharing and enhance cooperative benefits for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and limited resource farmers and ranchers. The bill would specify the entities eligible to receive grants under the program and would require an applicant for a grant to provide the department with certain information including a description of the farm equipment lending program. The bill would require the department to prioritize grants to eligible entities that primarily serve specified farmers and ranchers.

Full bill text and related information.

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