PRINTER'S NO. 1238
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
SENATE BILL
No.
881
Session of
2019
INTRODUCED BY MARTIN, AUMENT, VOGEL, PHILLIPS-HILL, J. WARD AND
MASTRIANO, OCTOBER 7, 2019
REFERRED TO AGRICULTURE AND RURAL AFFAIRS, OCTOBER 7, 2019
AN ACT
Amending the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), entitled "An
act authorizing the creation of agricultural areas," further
providing for purchase of agricultural conservation
easements, for Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase
Fund and for Land Trust Reimbursement Program.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Sections 14.1(b.2)(1) and 14.2(a)(2) and (3) of
the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the
Agricultural Area Security Law, are amended to read:
Section 14.1. Purchase of agricultural conservation easements.
* * *
(b.2) Eligible nonprofit entity participation.--An eligible
nonprofit entity may participate, along with an eligible county,
the Commonwealth and a local government unit eligible to
participate under subsection (b.1), in the preservation of
farmland through the purchase of agricultural conservation
easements.
(1) The eligible nonprofit entity may purchase an
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agricultural conservation easement if all of the following
apply:
(i) The agricultural conservation easement is a
joint purchase with the county and may include the
Commonwealth or a local government unit, or both.
(ii) The deed of agricultural conservation easement
is as prescribed by the State board for agricultural
conservation easements purchased by the Commonwealth.
(iii) The eligible nonprofit entity does not seek
reimbursement for the purchase of the agricultural
conservation easement under section 14.6(b).
* * *
Section 14.2. Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund.
(a) Purpose of fund.--
* * *
(2) Except as set forth in paragraph 3, the moneys
appropriated to the fund shall be utilized in accordance with
the expenditures and distribution authorized, required or
otherwise provided in the program for purchase of
agricultural conservation easements contained in section
14.1, and for the purpose of paying all costs, except
administrative costs, incurred by the Commonwealth or a
county incident to the purchase of agricultural conservation
easements[, and for the purpose of reimbursing nonprofit land
conservation organizations for expenses incurred in acquiring
and transferring agricultural conservation easements to the
Commonwealth or a county].
(3) [Each fiscal year, up to $200,000 of the money in
the fund may be used for the purpose of reimbursement
allocation under section 14.6(b). Up to 10% of these funds
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may be used for administrative expenses of the department
incurred under section 14.6(b).] By March 1 of each year, the
State board shall make the following annual allocations from
the fund:
(i) The amount of $2,500,000 for the purpose of
reimbursing eligible nonprofit entities for the purchase
of agricultural conservation easements under section
14.6(b). The amount allocated under this subparagraph
shall not exceed 10% of the total annual allocation made
under section 14.1(h).
(ii) The amount of $500,000 for the purpose of
reimbursing eligible nonprofit entities for transaction
expenses under section 14.6(c) relating to the purchase
of agricultural conservation easements under section
14.6(b). Up to 10% of the amount allocated under this
subparagraph for transaction expenses relating to the
purchase of agricultural conservation easements may be
used for administrative expenses incurred by the
department under section 14.6(b) and (c).
* * *
Section 2. Section 14.6(b), (c), (d) and (e) of the act are
amended and the section is amended by adding subsections to
read:
Section 14.6. Land Trust Reimbursement Program.
* * *
(b) Reimbursement.--[The] In accordance with section 14.2(a)
(3), the State board [may] shall allocate funds to reimburse
land trusts for the purchase of agricultural conservation
easements and for transaction expenses incurred in acquiring
agricultural conservation easements in this Commonwealth. Money
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allocated under this subsection which has not been expended by
December 31 of the year in which the money was allocated shall
lapse back to the fund.
(c) Eligible transaction expenses.--Eligible expenses
include:
(1) Appraisals.
(2) Legal services.
(3) Title searches.
(4) Document preparation.
(5) Title insurance.
(6) Closing fees.
(7) Survey costs.
(c.1) Eligible purchase expenses.--Eligible agricultural
conservation easement purchase expenses under this section shall
include payments by a land trust to acquire an agricultural
conservation easement.
(d) Limitations.--
(1) Reimbursement for the purchase of an agricultural
conservation easement shall [be limited to $5,000 per
easement] not exceed $2,500 per acre or 50% of the appraised
per-acre value, whichever is less.
(2) The term of an agricultural conservation easement
shall be perpetual.
(3) An agricultural conservation easement shall:
(i) consist of at least 10 acres;
(ii) contain at least 50% of harvested cropland,
pasture or grazing land; and
(iii) comply with the provisions of 7 Pa. Code ยง
138e.16(a)(1) and (3) (relating to minimum criteria for
applications).
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(4) A land trust must provide matching funds equal to
the amount of the reimbursement for the purchase of an
agricultural conservation easement. Up to 50% of the donated
value of the agricultural conservation easement may be used
to satisfy the provisions of this paragraph.
(5) Reimbursement shall not be provided to a land trust
for the expense of an agricultural conservation easement
purchased jointly with the county under section 14.1(b.2)(1).
(6) Reimbursement of transaction expenses shall be
limited to $10,000 per agricultural conservation easement.
(e) Eligibility.--To be eligible under this subsection, a
land trust shall be an eligible nonprofit entity and shall:
(1) register with the State board;
(2) coordinate agricultural conservation easement
purchase activities with the eligible county in which the
activity occurs or coordinate such activities with the State
board, if the activity does not occur within an eligible
county; and
(3) submit an application to the State board, with the
statement of costs [incidental to] of the acquisition and
transaction expenses, the deed of easement and any other
documentation required by the State board, within 60 days of
closing on the easement.
(f) Transfer to county.--The following apply:
(1) If a land trust ceases to exist, an agricultural
conservation easement purchased by the land trust which was
reimbursed for purchase costs under this section shall be
transferred to the eligible county where the agricultural
conservation easement was recorded.
(2) If an agricultural conservation easement under
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paragraph (1) is recorded in a county that is not an eligible
county, the agricultural conservation easement shall be
transferred to the State board.
Section 3. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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