Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HB3556
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Full Text of HB3556  103rd General Assembly


Sen. Doris Turner

Filed: 4/20/2023





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2    AMENDMENT NO. ______. Amend House Bill 3556 by replacing
3everything after the enacting clause with the following:
4    "Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Farmer Equity and Opportunity Act.
6    Section 5. Definitions. As used in this Act:
7    "Agricultural conservation easement" means a nonpossessory
8interest of a holder in real property imposing limitations on
9the use of the property to ensure the land remains available
10for agricultural purposes. An agricultural conservation
11easement does not prevent a property owner from constructing,
12improving, or maintaining a primary residence or housing for
13farmworkers on the land unless expressly specified in the
14easement deed.
15    "Costs of acquisition" means out-of-pocket direct costs of
16activities incurred in connection with the processing,



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1recording, and documentation of an agricultural conservation
2easement, such as appraisals, land surveys, title
3verification, and closing. "Costs of acquisition" do not
4include any costs incurred by a qualified easement holder for
5staffing, overhead, or operations.
6    "Director" means the Director of Agriculture.
7    "Department" means the Department of Agriculture.
8    "Eligible individual" means a resident of this State who:
9        (1) was born in this State;
10        (2) is at least 21 years of age;
11        (3) has previously identified as Black or African
12    American; and
13        (4) has at least one parent of African ancestry.
14    "Limited resource farmer" means a farmer with direct or
15indirect gross farm sales not more than the current indexed
16value in each of the previous 2 years, and who has a total
17household income at or below the national poverty level for a
18family of 4, or less than 50% of county median household income
19in each of the previous 2 years.
20    "New and beginning farmer" means a farmer who has operated
21a farm or ranch for less than 10 years.
22    "Qualified entity" means an organization:
23        (1) that is a nonprofit corporation under Section
24    501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or an
25    organization which has a fiscal sponsor who is exempt from
26    taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue



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1    Code of 1986; and
2        (2) that has a minimum of 3 years of experience
3    providing agricultural services, business assistance,
4    legal assistance, or advocacy services to socially
5    disadvantaged farmers.
6    "Qualified easement holder" means a State agency, federal
7agency, county, municipality, or nonprofit organization under
8Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 with
9experience acquiring, whether through purchase, donation, or
10transfer, an agricultural or other conservation easement.
11    "Qualified farmland" means land that is in agricultural
12production or available for agricultural production, including
13row crops, livestock, nurseries, orchards, or pastures, and
14incidental land that is associated with an active agricultural
16    "Socially disadvantaged farmer" means a farmer who is a
17member of a socially disadvantaged group.
18    "Socially disadvantaged group" means a group whose members
19have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice
20because of their identity as members of a group without regard
21to their individual qualities. These groups include all of the
23        (1) American Indian or Alaska Native (a person having
24    origins in any of the original peoples of North and South
25    America, including Central America, and who maintains
26    tribal affiliation or community attachment).



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1        (2) Asian (a person having origins in any of the
2    original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the
3    Indian subcontinent, including, but not limited to,
4    Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan,
5    the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam).
6        (3) Black or African American (a person having origins
7    in any of the black racial groups of Africa).
8        (4) Hispanic or Latino (a person of Cuban, Mexican,
9    Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish
10    culture or origin, regardless of race).
11        (5) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (a
12    person having origins in any of the original peoples of
13    Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands).
14    "Training" means a program of training approved by the
15Director that:
16        (1) provides an eligible individual with the basic
17    skills to operate a farm profitably with a primary focus
18    on regenerating the soil, ecosystem, and local community;
19        (2) provides a course of study that is equivalent to
20    no less than 30 academic credit hours of study, which may
21    be provided as direct in-field instruction;
22        (3) focuses on low capital-intensive techniques and
23    technologies; and
24        (4) studies local and regional food systems and the
25    market opportunities those systems present.



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1    Section 10. Farmer Equity and Opportunity Fund.
2    (a) The Farmer Equity and Opportunity Fund is created as a
3special fund in the State treasury. Except as provided in
4subsection (b), the moneys in the Fund, upon appropriation by
5the General Assembly, shall be used for the purposes of the
6program, which include grants for the purchase of agricultural
7conservation easements, technical assistance grants, technical
8assistance provided by the Department, and administrative
9costs incurred by the Department in administering the program.
10    (b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), moneys may be
11deposited into the Fund from federal grants and gifts and
12donations that are designated and required by the donor to be
13used exclusively for the purposes of the program.
14    (c) Not more than 10% of available funds under this Act may
15be used for technical assistance purposes and administration.
16Not less than 90% of funds available for grants under this Act
17shall be expended for the acquisition of agricultural
18conservation easements. Moneys in the Fund shall also be
19available for the following purposes:
20        (1) To provide technical assistance grants to
21    qualified entities in support of socially disadvantaged
22    farmers who are seeking access to farmland. As used in
23    this Section, "technical assistance" includes, but is not
24    limited to, organizing, advising, counseling, educating,
25    planning, drafting, translating, interpreting, and
26    consulting with socially disadvantaged farmers for the



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1    purpose of preparing them for favorable financing for land
2    acquisition or negotiating leasing arrangements.
3        (2) To provide grants for the purchase of agricultural
4    conservation easements to qualified easement holders.
5    Moneys from the Fund shall be available in each fiscal
6    year to any qualified easement holder having made an
7    application that has been reviewed by the Department and
8    approved by the Farm Equity and Opportunity Council. Award
9    grants may include:
10            (A) payment to qualified easement holders for the
11        purchase of agricultural conservation easements on
12        qualified farmland; or
13            (B) payment of the costs of acquisition related to
14        the purchase of agricultural conservation easements
15        approved by the program.
16    Section 15. Department responsibilities. Subject to
17appropriation, the Department shall:
18        (1) Adopt a scoring process to be used in evaluating
19    applications for agricultural conservation easement grants
20    that prioritizes applications benefiting:
21            (A) Socially disadvantaged farmers.
22            (B) Limited resource farmers.
23            (C) Eligible individuals with a history of land
24        dispossession.
25            (D) Veterans.



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1            (E) New and beginning farmers.
2        (2) Include, as ranking criteria in the scoring
3    process, projects that:
4            (A) Leverage local, federal, or private funding,
5        including a match requirement.
6            (B) Support transition of farmland to next
7        generation owner-operators.
8            (C) Support conservation priorities, including
9        protection of habitat, water quality, watershed
10        conservation, climate resilience, and local
11        conservation plans.
12        (3) Include, as eligibility criteria, projects that:
13            (A) Protect farmland that is under threat of
14        conversion.
15            (B) Demonstrate that the parcel proposed for
16        conservation is expected to continue to be used for
17        agricultural production if conserved.
18    Section 20. Farm Conservation Corps.
19    (a) Subject to appropriation and in partnership with the
20University of Illinois Extension, the Department shall
21establish the Farm Conservation Corps to provide residents
22between the ages of 18 and 29 from socially disadvantaged
23groups the academic, vocational, and social skills necessary
24to pursue long-term and productive careers in agriculture.
25    (b) The members of the Farm Conservation Corps shall serve



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1as on-farm apprentices, at no cost, to farms that have been
2protected with an agricultural conservation easement under
3this Act or with an annual gross farm income of less than
4$250,000 operated by:
5        (1) socially disadvantaged farmers;
6        (2) beginning farmers; or
7        (3) farmers operating certified organic farms.
8    Section 25. Data collection and reporting.
9    (a) Subject to appropriation, the Director shall make
10publicly available annual reports describing data on the
11recipients of the Department programs, including assistance
12from farm subsidy programs, and the amounts of the assistance,
13delineated by the race, ethnicity, and gender of the
15    (b) Subject to appropriation, the Department shall conduct
16research on the status of socially disadvantaged farmers,
17including, but not limited to:
18        (1) the share of land ownership of those socially
19    disadvantaged farmers as compared to all farmers,
20    delineated by the race, ethnicity, and gender of the
21    landowners;
22        (2) the share of the amount of assistance those
23    socially disadvantaged farmers receive from the Department
24    as compared to all farmers, delineated by the race,
25    ethnicity, and gender of the recipients;



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1        (3) the share, status, and receipt of loans by
2    socially disadvantaged farmers as compared to all farmers,
3    delineated by the race, ethnicity, and gender of the
4    recipients; and
5        (4) an assessment of the reasons for disparities in
6    land ownership, assistance from the Department, and loans
7    for socially disadvantaged farmers compared to all
8    farmers.
9    (c) Subject to appropriation, the Department shall conduct
10research on the demographics and status of farmworkers,
11including, but not limited to:
12        (1) the races, ethnicities, ages, localities, wages
13    and benefits, and working conditions of farmworkers;
14        (2) the economic contributions of farmworkers to the
15    State economy; and
16        (3) the satisfaction of farmworkers with their
17    employment.
18    (d) The Department shall:
19        (1) investigate historical changes in reporting
20    methodology and misreporting of socially disadvantaged
21    farmers in the census of agriculture;
22        (2) develop procedures to ensure that census of
23    agriculture surveys accurately capture the status of
24    socially disadvantaged farmers engaged in urban
25    agriculture; and
26        (3) conduct, concurrently with each census of



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1    agriculture, a review to assess:
2            (A) the outreach and methodologies used in
3        conducting the census of agriculture; and
4            (B) how such outreach and methodologies have
5        affected the counting of socially disadvantaged
6        farmers.
7    (e) Subject to appropriation, the Department shall
8annually conduct and annually make publicly available reports
9describing in-depth research and analysis of corporate
10(domestic and foreign) land investment and ownership in this
11State with specific attention given to the impact of corporate
12land investment and ownership on:
13        (1) land consolidation trends in this State and in the
14    United States;
15        (2) challenges and opportunities for new and beginning
16    farmers accessing land for farming;
17        (3) challenges and opportunities for members of
18    socially disadvantaged groups accessing land for farming;
19    and
20        (4) crop selection and production trends.
21    Section 35. Rulemaking. The Department shall adopt rules
22to carry out the provisions of this Act, including the
23adoption of rules that establish a process for submitting and
24processing of applications for grants no later than December
2531, 2023. Rules shall align with existing federal and local



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1programs to maximize potential for matching funds.
2    Section 40. Farmer Equity and Opportunity Council.
3    (a) There is hereby established the Farmer Equity and
4Opportunity Council to advise and assist the Department with
5administration and implementation of the program utilizing the
6criteria proposed by the Department and adopted by the
8    (b) The Council shall consist of the following members:
9        (1) the Director of Agriculture or his or her
10    designee;
11        (2) the Director of Natural Resources or his or her
12    designee; and
13        (3) the following members appointed by the Governor:
14            (A) one member who is the designated
15        representative of a qualified entity;
16            (B) one member who is a designated representative
17        of a qualified easement holder;
18            (C) one member who is the designated
19        representative of a statewide agricultural
20        organization;
21            (D) one member who operates a family farm in this
22        State;
23            (E) one member who operates a farm in this State
24        and who qualifies as socially disadvantaged;
25            (F) one member who is the designated



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1        representative of a banking or lending organization
2        and who has experience in agricultural lending to
3        socially disadvantaged, limited resource, veteran, or
4        new and beginning farmers;
5            (G) one member who is a designated representative
6        of an agricultural educational or training program;
7            (H) one member who is the designated
8        representative of a natural resource planning entity;
9        and
10            (I) one member representing local food systems.
11    (c) Appointed members of the Council shall serve staggered
12terms of 3 years, with 4 of the members' terms expiring on
13December 31 of each odd-numbered year.
14    (d) Appointments to and removal from the Council shall be
15made by the Governor and the Director of Agriculture without
16regard to the race, color, disability, sex, religion, age, or
17national origin of the appointees.
18    (e) The Council shall meet at least quarterly each year
19for the transaction of its business. Three-fifths of the
20members of the Council present at any board meeting shall
21constitute a quorum in order to conduct business; however, in
22the absence of a quorum, a majority of the members present may
23adjourn the meeting from time to time until a quorum shall
24attend. Any Council action or recommendation must be approved
25by a simple majority of the members of the entire Council then
26in office, unless otherwise specified in this Act.



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1    (f) The Council shall:
2        (1) annually review and approve award grants
3    recommended by the Department;
4        (2) review and approve rules to be adopted by
5    Department for administration of the program; and
6        (3) review outcomes of the program and advise the
7    Department of changes in the program or rules to ensure
8    success of the program in achieving the intent of this
9    Act, including changes informed by the data collection and
10    reporting under Section 25.
11    Section 90. The State Finance Act is amended by adding
12Section 5.990 as follows:
13    (30 ILCS 105/5.990 new)
14    Sec. 5.990. The Farmer Equity and Opportunity Fund.
15    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
16becoming law.".