SADC Takes First Look at Preliminary Draft Soil Disturbance Regulations

The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) at its December 11, 2014 meeting reviewed preliminary draft regulations intended to provide guidance regarding the extent of soil disturbance permitted on preserved farms under the farmland preservation Deed of Easement. The draft was the culmination of six years of effort by an SADC subcommittee and staff to research the issue, including commissioning a Rutgers study of the impacts of soil disturbance on soil structure and agricultural productivity, and working with Rowan University to determine the extent of soil disturbance on both preserved and unpreserved farms in New Jersey. The SADC is expected to again discuss the draft regulations at its January 22, 2015 meeting. Once the Committee approves release of draft regulations for public comment, SADC staff will widely disseminate the draft and schedule meetings with county agriculture development boards, boards of agriculture and any other interested parties to explain the draft proposal, promote discussion of the issue and provide ample opportunity for public feedback.

12/11/2015 Powerpoint Presentation
Part I: Impetus for Promulgating Regulations
Part II: Defining Soil Disturbance
Part III: Quantifying Soil Disturbance
Part IV: Proposing a Soil Disturbance Limitation
Part V: Exemptions, Waivers and Remediation

Rutgers Report: Assessment of Soil Disturbance on Farmland -- A review of academic literature and summary of findings on the impact of certain agricultural practices on soil.

Rowan University Disturbance Study Comparison -- This summary of Rowan University studies of preserved and unpreserved farms shows four major land use classifications -- permanent disturbances, temporary disturbances, natural resource uses and unknown uses -- and associated acreages.

Draft Regulations for Discussion Purposes Only

 

Special Occasion Events at Wineries on Preserved Farms

P.L. 2014, ch. 16, which was signed into law on July 2, 2014, allows wineries on preserved farms to conduct special occasion events under certain conditions as part of a 44-month pilot program.

SADC Pilot Program Summary and P.L. 2014, ch. 16

Presentation on Rural Microenterprises Bill at State Agricultural Convention (02/06/14)

The Rural Microenterprises bill (A4034) would provide a limited measure of relief to landowners who wish to conduct small-scale nonagricultural uses on preserved farms whose owners may have been aware of, or were denied, the opportunity to take exception areas when they preserved their farms. 

Powerpoint presentation   

Cluster Development Bill Signed Into Law

Governor Christie in August 2013 signed into law P.L. 2013, C. 106, which amends the Municipal Land Use Law to provide municipalities with enhanced provisions for the use of contiguous and non-contiguous clustering and lot-size averaging for open space, farmland and historic preservation.

Copy of P.L. 2013, C. 106

New Jersey Future Summary of Key Provisions

SADC Leasing Opportunities on 2 Preserved Farms

The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) has concluded accepting bids for two-year agricultural leases (crops only) on the following farms:

Sassi Farm -- 40 acres
Pennsville-Auburn Road (CR 551)
Carneys Point Township, Salem County

Bid Form   

Lease Agreement

Case Farm -- 70 acres
Old York Road (Route 179)
West Amwell Township, Hunterdon County

Bid Form   

Lease Agreement

The leases will run through December 31, 2014. Bids were accepted by the SADC until 4:45 p.m. on March 11, 2013.

Solar, Wind and Biomass Law

P.L. 2009, c. 213, which affects the ability of farmers and other landowners to install solar, wind or biomass energy generation systems on farms, was signed into law in January 2010. The law identifies allowable limits and criteria for these activities on preserved farms, and for qualifying for farmland assessment and right-to-farm protection on both preserved and non-preserved farms.

Application to install energy generation facilities, structures or equipment on a preserved farm. (This application is only for projects that meet the following criteria: They will be installed on existing buildings or other existing structures, are designed to meet the energy needs of the farm and will not exceed 2 megawatts of power.)

Right to Farm Protection: The SADC has adopted an agricultural management practice (AMP) that sets forth the standards commercial farms must meet to be eligible for right-to-farm protection for solar energy generation facilities.  
 

Input Sought on Draft On-Farm Direct Marketing AMP

The State Agriculture Development Committee at its December 8, 2011 meeting reviewed a working draft of an On-Farm Direct Marketing Agriculture Management Practice (AMP) and recommended circulating the draft to solicit broad feedback from the agricultural community and public.

The draft AMP clarifies terms in the Right to Farm Act and establishes performance-based standards that commercial farms would have to meet to be eligible for right-to-farm protection for retail farm markets and for various agriculture-related educational and farm-based recreational activities and events.

Comments should be submitted by April 15th to the SADC, PO Box 330, Trenton, NJ 08625 or sadc@ag.state.nj.us.

Overview Memo

Background Information

Powerpoint Presentation

Draft AMP

 

Medical Marijuana on Farms

In response to inquiries, the SADC on December 8, 2011 issued a Question and Answer Document to provide clarification regarding medical marijuana as it relates to preserved farms and eligibility for protection under the Right to Farm Act.

FY2011 Farmland Preservation Funding

Appropriation bills signed by the Governor on August 17, 2011, will provide $90.6 million for farmland preservation acquisition projects. The allocation of funds results in the following program breakdown:

State Acquisition Program -- $19,738,760 for the SADC to directly purchase development rights to preserve farmland or purchase farmland outright for preservation.

County Planning Incentive Grant (PIG) Program -- $39 million in grants to 16 participating counties to preserve farmland. The bills provide a $1.5 million dollar "base grant" to each county. The bills also establish a $15 million competitive grant fund. Counties that spend down their base grants can compete for additional funds in the competitive grant fund until that fund is exhausted. Any county can qualify for up to $3 million in competitive grants, for a potential total maximum combined grant of $4.5 million. (List of participating counties, with municipalities where counties have targeted farmland for preservation.)

Municipal PIG Program
-- $23 million in grants to participating municipalities to preserve farmland. The bills provide $750,000 to each new PIG applicant (6 towns) and $500,000 to each town that qualified for funding under the FY09 round (37 towns). (List of participating municipalities)

Nonprofit Program
-- $8.831 million in grants to 8 nonprofit organizations to preserve farmland (the largest allocation to the Nonprofit Program in SADC history). (List of participating nonprofits) 

Press Release   Video

Summary of Preserved Farmland to Date by County

DOT Proposes Rule Changes for Agritourism Road Signage

The N.J. Department of Transportation proposed rules in the March 7, 2011 New Jersey Register that would expand opportunities for Tourist-Oriented Destination Signage for agritourism operations.

Copy of the proposed rules

Presentations

On-Farm Solar Energy Generation (7.93MB), 11/05/10, American Planning Association-NJ

SADC Status Report to the N.J. Farm Bureau Convention (7.99MB), 11/15/10

Washington Twp. MUA Eminent Domain Actions

SADC Summary of Findings and Recommendations (9/17/10)'
Washington Township MUA Community Well Project Map 
Public Hearing Transcript (8/23/10)
Press Release on Public Hearing (8/17/10)

FY2011 Funding

The SADC on July 22, 2010, established program funding allocations for FY2011, which call for $73 million to be used from November 2009 bond funds, $9.2 million from canceled projects and $6.3 million from Fee Simple revenues. Total FY2011 funding that will be requested is $88.5 million. 

Memo to CADBs, Municipal PIG Coordinators, Nonprofits (August 26, 2010)
Memo to SADC Members (July 22, 2010)
FY2011 Proposed Program Funding Allocation (spreadsheet)
FY2011 County PIG Funding Allocation (spreadsheet as of July 22, 2010)
FY2011 Municipal PIG Funding Allocation (spreadsheet as of July 22, 2010)

Governor Signs Farmland Preservation Appropriation Bills

Governor Corzine on August 6, 2009, signed into law S2712-2715 that provide $91 million for farmland preservation acquisition projects.

Summary
Grants to Counties
    County Planning Incentive Grants 
    Traditional County Easement Purchase
Municipal Planning Incentive Grants
Nonprofit Grants

Agricultural Mediation Program Update and Opportunity for Input

The SADC's agricultural mediation program is intended to help farmers and others resolve agricultural disputes quickly, amicably and in a cost-effective manner. Read an update on the program's activities and a discussion of potential opportunities for expansion. Suggestions for future program activities are welcome and should be sent to David Kimmel at david.kimmel@ag.state.nj.us.  

SADC Interpretation of 6/30/09 Sunset of Alternative Appraisal Valuation Provision

Under the Garden State Preservation Trust Act (GSPT), as amended, when state, local or non-profit agencies “seek to acquire” land for preservation, they must conduct appraisals that utilize the zoning and environmental regulations that are in place currently, as well as those that were in place as of January 1, 2004.  This appraisal approach yields two different values, the higher of which must be used as the basis for negotiating with the landowner.

 

This dual-appraisal requirement will sunset on June 30, 2009.  The GSPT Act states:                  

“Commencing on the date of enactment…and through June 30, 2009, when the committee, a local government unit, or a qualifying tax exempt nonprofit organization seeks to acquire a development easement on farmland or fee simple title to farmland…using constitutionally dedicated moneys…it shall conduct or cause to be conducted an appraisal or appraisals of value…. "[NJSA 13:8C-38j.(1)].

Therefore, the entity must “seek to acquire” the farm for preservation purposes by June 30, 2009 in order to take advantage of the dual-appraisal provision.  As such, the SADC has taken action to clarify for our funding partners what the term “seeks to acquire” means.    

The attached SADC Interpretation of the Alternate Appraisal Provision Within the Garden State Preservation Trust (GSPT) Act -- which sets forth the conditions that must be met for an application to qualify for the special appraisal provision --  was approved by the SADC at a special meeting on April 2,  2009. In short, for applications that need SADC approval prior to initiating appraisals -- including those under the County and Municipal Planning Incentive Grant Programs and the 2005, 2006 and 2007 rounds of the Nonprofit Program -- those applications must be submitted to the SADC by no later than June 30, 2009. Once the SADC issues approval of the application, appraisals with a valuation date of no later than June 30, 2009, must be submitted to the SADC within 180 days.

In cases where SADC approval is not needed before initiating appraisals -- such as for pre-approved applications under the 2008 or 2009 rounds of the Nonprofit Program or for applications where "green light" approval has already been granted -- all appraisals must be submitted to the SADC by December 31, 2009, with a valuation date of no later than June 30, 2009.  

These deadlines also apply to the State Acquisition Program. Acquisitions under all programs must use Garden State Preservation Trust funds or 2007 bond act funds.

We recognize our funding  partners' great interest in the implications of the June 30, 2009 sunset provision, so this interpretation is being sent electronically and posted on the agency website.  However, please be advised that,  like with any SADC action, the adoption of this interpretation is subject to a 15-day Governor's office review period for the minutes.

If you have any questions regarding this interpretation, please contact Brian Smith. If you have questions regarding a specific application, contact the appropriate program staff person.

DEP Schedules Meetings on Wildlife Management Area Agricultural Leases

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is planning to change its agricultural leasing program for properties within wildlife management areas owned and managed by its Division of Fish and Wildlife. Key changes will include the issuance of longer-term leases rather than year-to-year special use permits. Lease compensation to the State will be based on soil rental rates established by the USDA's Farm Service, and all leases will be subject to a bidding process open to all interested farmers. The DEP intends to implement this new program for the 2010 growing season.

The DEP has scheduled the following three public meetings with farmers to answer questions and provide detailed program requirements. For more information, contact the DEP's Office of Leases at (609) 633-7575.

January 22, 2009, 7 p.m.
Assunpink Wildlife Management Area
Conservation Center
One Eldridge Road, Robbinsville

February 5, 2009, 7 p.m.
Pequest Education Center
605 Pequest Road, Oxford

February 10, 2009, 2 p.m.
2009 State Agricultural Convention
Crowne Plaza Hotel
2349 West Marlton Pike
Cherry Hill

Making Farmland More Available to Farmers

Is farmland availability or affordability a problem in New Jersey? How great an issue is it? What might be some ways to improve opportunities for New Jersey farmers?

The SADC has visited with county boards and farmers to solicit input and ideas. You can also read background information on the issues here and share your thoughts.

Planning Incentive Grant Process

Summary of New Planning Incentive Grant Process