Agricultural Soil Health Program
The act creates the Colorado soil health program in the department of agriculture (department), which includes programs to encourage widespread adoption of soil health practices. An entity's participation in the soil health program is voluntary. The department, commissioner of agriculture (commissioner), and state agricultural commission will administer the soil health program.
The department shall, if financial resources are available, establish the following:
- A grant program;
- A system for monitoring the agricultural, environmental, or economic benefits of soil health practices;
- A state soil health inventory and platform;
- A soil health testing program; and
- Other programs the department deems appropriate or necessary.
Before establishing a program, the department must provide public notice and afford the public an opportunity to submit written comments.
The department may also:
- Seek, accept, and expend gifts, grants, or donations from public and private sources;
- Provide grants, loans, and other resources to eligible entities to perform soil health activities; and
- Cooperate and collaborate with other people.
The act also creates a soil health advisory committee (advisory committee). The commissioner is required to appoint members who:
- To the greatest extent possible, represent the different geographic areas, political diversity, and demographic diversity of the state; and
- Include agricultural producers of diverse production systems, a representative of an Indian tribe, conservation district board members, and water users.
The state conservation board appoints 2 members to the advisory committee.
The advisory committee will make recommendations to the department and assist in the development of the soil health program. The advisory committee is also authorized to solicit input, review proposals and agreements, and evaluate the soil health program. The advisory committee approves grants.
The department shall maintain the confidentiality of information related to private lands that identify landowners, land managers, agricultural producers, or lands.
No later than January 31 of each year, the department shall prepare and make available to the public a report of its activities on its official website. The department shall annually report each gift, grant, or donation in its budget request for the state fiscal year to the joint budget committee and at the hearing required by the "State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent (SMART) Government Act".
For the 2021-22 state fiscal year, $4,464 is appropriated to the department for use by the agricultural services division.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)