Today's Law As Amended


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



As Amends the Law Today


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 conversion of agricultural land permanently impedes California’s current and future ability to store carbon, maintain resilient regional ecosystems, and produce food.
(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.
(e) New opportunities are needed for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to access land through ownership or long-term leasing of farmland and rangeland.
(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.
(g) Funding for fee-title acquisition and agricultural conservation easements can make land permanently more affordable and accessible to socially disadvantaged farmers 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.
(d) “Eligible conservation entity” means an entity that 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.
(2) A California Native American tribe.
(e) “Fund” or “REEAL Fund” means the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Fund established by Section 10103.
(f) “Program” or “REEAL Program” means the Regional Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands Program established by Section 10103.
(g) “Socially disadvantaged 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 Economies and Equity in Agricultural Lands 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 as follows:
(1) To eligible conservation entities for fee-title acquisition and agricultural conservation easements used for both of the following purposes:
(A) Protecting agricultural lands in perpetuity.
(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 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.
 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.