HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2020
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the use of cover crops and green manure increases agricultural productivity and aligns with the State's integrated sustainability goals. Plants used for this purpose, including grasses, legumes, and forbs, add nutrients to the soil, act as windbreaks, assist with water retention, provide habitats for beneficial insects, and help to prevent soil erosion.
The legislature further finds that it is in the interests of the State to incentivize the use of management practices that enhance the quality and sustainability of Hawaii's agricultural lands.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to establish and appropriate moneys for a cover crop reimbursement pilot program to reimburse farming operations in the State for the costs of acquiring cover crop seeds or green manure.
SECTION 2. (a) The department of agriculture shall establish and implement a three-year cover crop reimbursement pilot program to reimburse farming operations in the State for the costs of acquiring cover crop seeds or green manure.
(b) Applications for cost reimbursements shall be submitted on a form furnished by the department and shall be accompanied by documentation of the costs of purchase, pursuant to subsection (c); provided that:
(1) The applicant shall indemnify and hold harmless the State and its officers, agents, and employees from all claims arising out of or resulting from the cover crop seeds or green manure purchased; and
(2) The department may request that an applicant provide additional information for the purposes of verifying the volume of cover crop or green manure purchased.
(c) Applications for reimbursement under the cover crop reimbursement pilot program shall be filed for seeds purchased within the fiscal year immediately preceding the filing and be effective for costs of purchasing cover crops or green manure incurred after June 30, 2020, and before July 1, 2023. The documentation shall include a certification that the amount for which the applicant seeks reimbursement is not already covered by other governmental cover crop incentive programs, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service's environmental quality incentive payment program or the conservation stewardship program.
(d) Funds shall be disbursed upon approval on an annual basis by the department to the farmer or rancher for up to one hundred per cent of the costs incurred for cover crop seeds or green manure purchased after June 30, 2020, and before July 1, 2023.
(e) The department shall aggregate the total reimbursement applications pursuant to this section and divide and distribute the available moneys on a first come, first served basis; provided that no farming operation shall receive a total reimbursement of more than $50,000 per year.
(f) There is established within the department a cover crop reimbursement pilot program manager position, which shall be a full-time temporary position exempt from chapters 76 and 89, Hawaii Revised Statutes. The cover crop reimbursement pilot program manager shall receive a salary not to exceed $50,000 per year. The cover crop reimbursement pilot program manager shall possess a requisite level of knowledge and expertise in the area of program management necessary to carry out the duties of the position. The cover crop pilot reimbursement program manager shall:
(1) Facilitate the division and distribution of available moneys for reimbursement; and
(2) Manage the day-to-day coordination of the cover crop reimbursement pilot program.
(g) Any action taken by the department pursuant to this section shall be exempt from the rulemaking requirements of chapter 91, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
(h) The department shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2024. The report shall include the department's recommendation on whether the pilot program should be extended, with or without modifications.
(i) As used in this section:
"Cover crop" and "green manure" mean the plants listed in the cover crop and green manure database maintained by the university of Hawaii college of tropical agriculture and human resources.
"Department" means the department of agriculture.
"Farming operation" has the same meaning as defined in section 165-2, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $ or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2020-2021 for the department of agriculture to establish, implement, and administer a cover crop reimbursement pilot program; provided that up to $20,000 may be used for administrative costs.
The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of agriculture for the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2150.
HDOA; Sustainable Agriculture; Cover Crop Reimbursement Pilot Program; Appropriation
Establishes a three year cover crop reimbursement pilot program to provide up to one hundred per cent cost reimbursement to farming operations in the State for acquiring cover crop seeds or green manure. Establishes a cover crop reimbursement pilot program manager position within the department of agriculture to administer the program. Requires a report to the legislature. Appropriates funds. Effective 7/1/2150. (HD1)
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