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AB-986 Agricultural land: socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers: REEAL Act of 2019.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 04/22/2019 09:00 PM
AB986:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 22, 2019
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 26, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 986


Introduced by Assembly Member Robert Rivas
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry)

February 21, 2019


An act to add Division 10.1 (commencing with Section 10100) to the Public Resources Code, relating to agricultural land.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 986, as amended, Robert Rivas. Agricultural land: socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers: REEAL Act of 2019.
Existing law establishes in the Department of Conservation the Agricultural Protection Planning Grant Program, under which a local government entity, nonprofit organization, authority, or joint powers authority may apply to the department for a planning grant to be used for the protection and preservation of farmland, grazingland, and grassland, as specified.
This bill would enact the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Act of 2019, or the REEAL Act of 2019, which would require the department department, in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture, to establish a program known as the Regional Economy Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Program, or the REEAL Program. Program and the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Fund. The bill would provide that moneys in the fund are available upon appropriation by the Legislature for the purposes of the program. The bill would require the department, under the REEAL Program, program, to award grants to certain eligible entities, as defined. The bill would require a grant awarded under the REEAL Program to be used both entities to protect agricultural lands and to make agricultural lands accessible to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers through ownership or long-term leases. ranchers, as prescribed.

The bill would establish in the State Treasury the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Loan Fund, or the REEAL Loan Fund. The bill would require the department to expend moneys in the REEAL Loan Fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to establish and administer a loan program, to be known as the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Loan Program, or the REEAL Loan Program. The bill would require the department, under the REEAL Loan Program, to provide capital to specified financial institutions to award loans, as provided, to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers for the ownership or long-time lease of agricultural land consistent with the purposes of the REEAL Act of 2019.

The bill would also require the department to expend moneys in the REEAL Loan Fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to establish and implement a technical assistance grant program to award grants to qualified farm service providers, as specified, to prepare socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers for obtaining REEAL loans, as provided.

The bill would require the department to establish an oversight body, as provided, to supervise the administration and implementation of the above-described provisions.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Division 10.1 (commencing with Section 10100) is added to the Public Resources Code, to read:

DIVISION 10.1. REEAL Act of 2019

10100.
 This division shall be known, and may be cited, as the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Act of 2019, or the REEAL Act of 2019.

10101.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Agriculture is a critical part of California’s environment and rural economy.
(b) However, on average, approximately 50,000 acres of farmland and rangeland are lost per year in California.

(c)This land loss is largely a result of steadily increasing low-density sprawl development.

(d)

(c) This conversion of agricultural land permanently impedes California’s current and future ability to store carbon and carbon, maintain resilient regional ecosystems. ecosystems, and produce food.

(e)

(d) Concurrently, access to working lands for low-income farmers and ranchers and farmers and ranchers of color is prohibitively difficult, in part due to the ongoing legacies of institutionalized racism and discrimination and their effects upon access to state and federal farm loan programs.

(f)

(e) New opportunities are needed for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to access land through ownership or long-term leasing of farmland and rangeland.

(g)Revolving loan funds, forgivable loans, and other financial tools

(f) Down payment assistance, interest rate assistance, predevelopment and appraisal costs, and one-time investments in infrastructure improvements can provide favorable terms to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and support their access to and stewardship of California farmland and rangeland.

(h)Agricultural

(g) Funding for fee-title acquisition and agricultural conservation easements can make land permanently more affordable and accessible to socially disadvantaged farmers and or ranchers, while ensuring that it is never lost to sprawl development.

10102.
 For purposes of this division, the following terms have the following meanings:
(a) “Department” means the Department of Conservation.
(b) “Disadvantaged community” means a community identified as a disadvantaged community pursuant to Section 39711 of the Health and Safety Code.
(c) “Eligible assistance entity” means a nonprofit organization or cooperative with demonstrated technical expertise in agricultural financing and farm business development assistance to achieve the purpose of this division.

(b)

(d) “Eligible conservation entity” means an entity that meets both of the following criteria: is either of the following:
(1) The entity has the conservation of agricultural lands among its stated purposes, as prescribed by law or expressed in the entity’s governing documents, and is one of the following:
(A) A city, county, or city and county.
(B) A nonprofit organization.
(C) A resource conservation district.
(D) A regional park or open-space district or authority.
(E) A cooperative corporation.

(F)

(2) A California Native American tribe.

(2)The entity has the conservation of agricultural lands among its stated purposes, as prescribed by law or expressed in the entity’s governing policies.

(c)“Fund”

(e) “Fund” or “REEAL Fund” means the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Loan Fund established by Section 10104. 10103.
(f) “Program” or “REEAL Program” means the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Program established by Section 10103.

(d)

(g) “Socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers” farmer or rancher” has the same meaning as provided in Section 512 of the Food and Agricultural Code.

10103.
 (a) In order to build a strong, climate-resilient small-farm economy and enable socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to secure stable land tenure, the department shall establish the Regional Economy Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Program, or the REEAL Program. and the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Fund. Upon appropriation by the Legislature, moneys in the fund shall be used for the purposes of the program.
(b) Under the REEAL Program, the department shall award grants to eligible entities. Each grant awarded under the REEAL Program shall be used for both of the following purposes: as follows:
(1) To eligible conservation entities for fee-title acquisition and agricultural conservation easements used for both of the following purposes:

(1)

(A) Protecting agricultural lands. lands in perpetuity.

(2)

(B) Ensuring that agricultural lands are accessible to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers through ownership or long-term leases.
(2) To eligible assistance entities for down payment assistance, interest rate assistance, direct costs incidental to acquisition, infrastructure for land improvement, and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who are seeking financing for land acquisition or leasing. For the purposes of this paragraph, technical assistance includes, but is not limited to, organizing, advising, counseling, educating, planning, drafting, translating, interpreting, and consulting with socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers for the purpose of preparing them for favorable financing for land acquisition or negotiating leasing arrangements.
(c) In awarding grants to eligible conservation entities under the REEAL Program, the department shall give priority, through set-aside funding or other measurable means, to all of the following:
(1) California Native American tribes.
(2) Nonprofit land trusts organizations of which at least a majority of the board is composed of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers or residents of a disadvantaged community.
(3) Cooperative corporations of which at least a majority of the board is composed of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers or residents of a disadvantaged community.

10104.

(a)There is established in the State Treasury the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Loan Fund, or the REEAL Loan Fund.

(b)Moneys in the fund shall be expended by the department, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to do both of the following:

(1)(A)Establish and administer a loan program, to be known as the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Loan Program, or the REEAL Loan Program, under which the department shall provide capital to institutions such as certified community development financial institutions or financial development corporations to award loans described in subparagraph (B) to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers for the ownership or long-term lease of agricultural lands consistent with the purposes of this division.

(B)Loans awarded under the REEAL Loan Program shall include forgivable, deferred, low-interest or no-interest loans with reduced downpayments. These loans shall be known as Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands loans, or REEAL loans.

(2)(A)Establish and implement a technical assistance grant program to award grants to qualified farm service providers, such as certified community development financial institutions, to prepare socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers for obtaining a REEAL loan.

(B)Technical assistance under the grant program established pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall include, but is not limited to, helping socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers underwrite REEAL loans and preparing their farm or ranch businesses to apply for REEAL loans.

10105.

The department shall establish an oversight body to supervise the implementation and administration of Sections 10103 and 10104. The oversight body shall be composed of pertinent public agency staff, private sector participants, farmers, and ranchers.

10104.
 In furtherance of Section 513 of the Food and Agricultural Code, the department shall consult with the Department of Food and Agriculture on the development, implementation, and administration of Section 10103.

10105.
 The provisions of this division are severable. If any provision of this division or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.