Healthy soils task force approved

A 17-member task force will develop a plan to improve soil health in Nebraska under a bill passed by the Legislature April 11.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist40' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Tim Gragert'>Sen. Tim Gragert</a>
Sen. Tim Gragert

Introduced by Creighton Sen. Tim Gragert, LB243 creates a healthy soils task force under the state Department of Agriculture.

The task force will develop a healthy soils initiative and a plan to carry it out “using standards for organic matter, biological activity, biological diversity and soil structure as measures to assess improved soil health.”

Members will include the director of the state Department of Agriculture or his or her designee and others appointed by the governor, including representatives of natural resources districts, production agriculture and agribusiness as well as academic experts and representatives from environmental organizations.

The chairpersons of the Legislature’s Agriculture and Natural Resources committees or their designees will serve as nonvoting members.

When developing the plan, the task force will examine how to provide farmers and ranchers with research, education, technical assistance and demonstration projects; financial incentives to improve soil health; and information on the contribution of livestock to soil health.

It also will identify goals and timelines for improving the state’s soil health through voluntary partnerships among producers and state and local agencies as well as public and private entities.

The task force is required to submit its plan, findings and recommendations to the Legislature and the governor by Jan. 1, 2021, when it terminates.

LB243 passed on a vote of 43-0.

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