Bill Summaries: S615 NORTH CAROLINA FARM ACT OF 2017.

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  • Summary date: Jul 14 2017 - View Summary

    AN ACT TO AMEND CERTAIN LAWS GOVERNING AGRICULTURAL MATTERS. Enacted July 12, 2017. Effective July 12, 2017, except as otherwise provided.

  • Summary date: Jun 28 2017 - View Summary

    Conference report makes the following changes to the 5th edition.

    Deletes the proposed changes to GS 105-277.4(c), which added to the events that disqualify a tract of land from the present-use value classification under the subsection. Makes conforming changes. 

  • Summary date: Jun 28 2017 - View Summary

    House amendment #3 further amends the 4th edition.

    Adds to GS 95-79, which declares certain documents illegal. Establishes that any provision that directly or indirectly conditions the terms of an agreement not to sue or settle litigation upon an agricultural producer's status as a union or nonunion employer, or entry into or refusal to enter into an agreement with a labor union or labor organization, is invalid and unenforceable as against public policy in restraint of trade or commerce in North Carolina. Further establishes that an agreement requiring an agricultural producer to transfer funds to a labor union or labor organization for the purpose of paying an employee's membership fee or dues is also invalid and unenforceable as against public policy in restraint of trade or commerce in NC. 

    Applies to agreements and settlements entered into, renewed, or extended on or after the date the act becomes law.

  • Summary date: Jun 27 2017 - View Summary

    House amendments make the following changes to the 4th edition.

    Amendment #1 further amends GS 153A-340, specifying that activities incident to the farm include existing or new residences constructed to the applicable residential building code situated on the farm occupied by the owner, lessee, or operator of the farm and other buildings or structures sheltering or supporting the farm use and operation. Makes clarifying changes to the header of Section 8.

    Adds new Section 8.1 amending GS 106-581.1, which sets out the meaning of agriculture, agricultural, and farming as used in the Article, to include that those terms refer to the following when performed on the farm: the marketing and selling of agricultural products; agritourism; the storage and use of materials for agricultural purposes; packing, treating, processing, storing, storage, and other activities performed to add value to crops, livestock, and agricultural items produced on a farm (currently, produced on the farm); and similar activities incident to the operation of a farm. 

    Amendment #2 further adds to GS 143-138(b4) to exempt from building rules farm buildings that are located inside the building-rules jurisdiction of any municipality that are therapeutic equine facilities. Adds that a therapeutic equine facility is an equine facility as described in subsubdivision (1)a of subsection (b4) operated by an organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that provides therapeutic equine-related activities for persons who are physically, intellectually, or emotionally challenged. 

  • Summary date: Jun 26 2017 - View Summary

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 3rd edition.

    Directs the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission to study the type of activities that constitute agritourism when conducted on a bona fide farm, and other relevant matters related to agritourism, in addition to the currently specified subjects. Makes conforming changes.

    Makes amendment to GS 105-277.3 (Agricultural, horticultural, and forestland--Classifications), effective when it becomes law (was, effective for taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2017).

    Modifies proposed amendment to GS 105-277.4(c), which specifies which events disqualify a tract of land for present-use classification under that subdivision. Further provides that if only part of the land loses its eligibility for present-use value classification under that subdivision, the assessor must determine the qualification of the remaining land for present-use value classification. Makes all changes in the act to GS 105-277.4(c) effective for taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2018 (was, July 1, 2017).

    Makes an organizational change.

  • Summary date: Jun 21 2017 - View Summary

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 2nd edition.

    Amends Section 2(b), which directs the Environmental Management Commission (Commission) to classify certain facilities as agricultural operations exempt from 15A NCAC 02D .1806. As amended, provides that any facility that stores products that are (1) grown, produced, or generated on one or more agricultural operations and (2) renewable energy resources shall be exempt from that rule's requirements until the Commission reviews and readopts the rule pursuant to section 2(c) and determines criteria under which the exemption should be made permanent.

    Amends GS 105-277.3 (Agricultural, horticultural, and forestland--Classifications). Amends which income is included under the termgross income under that statute to include income from the sale of bees or products derived from beehives other than honey.

    Amends GS 89C-25 (Limitations on application of Chapter). Amends proposed new subsection, to provide that the Chapter does not prevent thedecommissioningof waste impoundments for animal waste management systems (was,closing of waste impoundments, etc.) by the specified specialist.

    Amends Section 17.1, which directs the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to exempt covered farm vehicles engaged in intrastate commerce from the requirements of 49 CFR 390.21 and provides for conforming amendments to 14B NCAC 07C .0101, to replace all references to the DMV with the State Highway Patrol.

    Amends GS 105-277.4. Adds an additional type of disqualifying event to land meeting the conditions for classification under GS 105-277.3, for when a solar energy electric system receiving the exclusion under GS 105-275(45) is located on the land, and the energy generated by the system is not solely used by the owner for the benefit of the land. Effective for taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2017.

    Amends GS 18B-1114.1 (Authorization of winery special events permit). Provides that a winery special permit further allows the winery or wine producer to give free tastings of its wine, and to sell its wine by the glass or in closed containers, at farmers' markets.

    Amends GS 105-164.13E (Exemption for farmers). Amends the provision authorizing conditional exemption certificates to authorize a person to request a one-year extension of a conditional exemption certificate if the person satisfies all of three listed conditions, including that the person suffers a weather-related disaster that prevents the person from becoming eligible for a qualifying exemption certificate. Effective for taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2017.

  • Summary date: May 30 2017 - View Summary

    Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

    Makes organizational changes.

    Deletes proposed amendments to GS 106-498 (Bond required).

    Directs the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission to study possible updates to GS Chapter 106, Article 44 (Unfair practices by handlers of fruits and vegetables), and the advisability of providing property tax abatement to aging farm machinery, as specified, and to submit its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by March 1, 2018.

    Amends GS 68-17 (Impounding livestock at large; right to recover costs and damages; abandoned livestock). Extends the proposed time limit after which livestock is deemed abandoned from one month after the last day the owner paid a fee to a custodian for the treatment, boarding, or care of the livestock, to two months after that day. Makes conforming changes.

    Amends GS 113A-52.1 (Forest practice Guidelines). Directs Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) (currently, directs the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)) to adopt Forest Practice Guidelines Related to Water Quality (Guidelines). Directs the Commissioner of Agriculture to establish and appoint the Forestry Technical Advisory Committee (currently called the Technical Advisory Committee), as currently specified. Requires the committee member knowledgeable in erosion and sedimentation control to be employed by DEQ.

    Makes a conforming change to GS 113A-52.01, regarding exemptions from GS Chapter 113A, Article 4 (Sedimentation Pollution Control Act of 1973). Amends the exemption from the Article for harvesting timber to provide that it applies to activities conducted in accordance with standards (was, best management practices) defined by the Guidelines.

    Amends GS 113A-61.1 (Inspection of land-disturbing activity; notice of violation). Authorizes DACS to inspect land-disturbing activities on forestland for the production and harvesting of timber and other timber products to determine compliance with the Guidelines. Prohibits willful resistance, delay, or obstruction of an authorized representative, employee, or agent of DACS while inspecting or attempting to inspect a land-disturbing activity on forestland for production and harvesting of timber under this statute.

    Makes a conforming change to GS 106-895 (Powers of DACS).

    Amends GS 106-932 (Assent of legislature to mutual aid provisions of other compacts). Deletes the General Assemblyäó»s assent to the Middle Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact, and provides the General Assemblyäó»s assent to Article IV and V of the Middle Atlantic Interstate Fire Protection Compact, and the Great Plains Wildland Fire Protection Compact, in accordance with Article VII of those compacts relating to interregional mutual aid.

    Amends GS 153A-340 (Grant of power). Amends the list of things that constitute sufficient evidence that a property is being used for bona fide farm purposes, excluding a Farm Identification Number issued by the US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency from that list. Provides that buildings or structures used for agritourism (as defined) are a bona fide farm purpose if the building or structure is located on a property that either is owned by a person who holds a qualifying farmer sales tax exemption certificate from the Department of Revenue, or is enrolled in the present use value program. Provides that failure to comply with subsection (b), regarding when county zoning regulations may affect property used for a bona fide farm purpose, for three years after an agritourism building or structure is certified as a bona fide purpose, subjects the building or structure to the countyäó»s zoning regulations in effect on the date the building no longer meets the requirements of subsection (b).

    Amends GS 143-138 (North Carolina State Building Code). Provides that the term farm buildingin that statute means any nonresidential building or structure used for a bona fide farm purpose.

    Amends GS 20-39.1 (Publicly owned vehicles to be marked; private license plates on publicly owned vehicles). Provides that a motor vehicle used by DACS exclusively for meat and poultry compliance officers to conduct inspections is not required to be marked as provided in this statute. Authorizes the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to annually provide license plates to DACS for use on publicly owned or leased vehicles for this purpose, with records maintained in compliance with GS 20-56 (Registration indexes).

    Amends GS 106-549.15 (Definitions). Amends the definition of adulterated as it is used in Article 49B (Meat Inspection Requirements; Adulteration and Misbranding), to include meat, etc., that bears or contains a color additive which is unsafe under section 721 (was, section 706) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as specified. Makes an identical change to GS 106-549.51 (Definitions), as it pertains to poultry instead of meat, etc.

    Amends GS 106-896. Amends the caption to read äóìForest rangers, deputy rangers, and emergency workers.äóù Provides for the Commissioner of Agricultureäó»s designee to perform the authorized functions under that statute. Authorizes the Commissioner or their designee to authorize as many forest rangers, deputy rangers, or emergency workers (all as defined) as the Commissioner deems necessary and available (deleting the current language restricting this authority to counties the Commissioner determines warrant the establishment of a forest fire organization).

    Makes conforming changes to GS 106-899. Provides that only a forest ranger (currently, forest ranger or deputy forest ranger) may summon residents to assist in extinguishing fires. Adds deputy rangers to these with power to prevent and extinguish fires.

    Amends GS 106-902 to make the compensation requirements applicable to deputy rangers and emergency workers in addition to rangers.

    Amends GS 106-907 (Instructions on forest preservation and development). Gives forest rangers (was, district, county, township, and all deputy rangers) the currently described responsibility to distribute forest preservation, development, and management literature to schools, and to keep posted in schools forest fire prevention posters.

    Amends GS 106-941, making the definition of forest ranger in GS Chapter 106, Article 78 (Regulation of open fires), conform to that in amended GS 106-896.

    Amends GS 106-942, regarding fire permits in high-hazard counties. Provides that permits for starting fires may be obtained from agents authorized by the forest ranger (currently, county forest ranger), as currently described.

    Amends GS 97-2(2), which sets out the definition of employee as the term is used in Article 1 (Workersäó» Compensation Act). Replaces the current language referencing an "authorized pickup firefighter" in the existing definition with an "authorized emergency worker." Defines authorized emergency worker to mean an individual who has completed required emergency response training as required by the North Carolina Forest Service and who is available as needed by the North Carolina Forest Service for emergency activities, including immediate dispatch to wildfires, snow events, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or other emergencies, and standby for initial attack on fires during period of high fire danger. Makes conforming changes. Makes the language gender neutral.

    Amends GS 121-39.1, concerning the termination or modification of agricultural conservation agreements. Adds to subsection (g) of that statute, which requires an agency requesting a conservation agreement modification or termination to conduct a conservation benefit analysis, that the statute does not apply to a voluntary termination or modification affecting no more than the lesser of 2% or one acre of the total easement area of the conservation agreement when requested by a public utility, the Department of Transportation, or a government entity having eminent domain authority under Article 3 of GS Chapter 40.

    Amends GS 20-101(b) to exempt motor vehicles licensed at the farmer rate under GS 20-88 from having a USDOT identification number as required by the statute.

    Amends GS 89C-25 (Limitations on application of Chapter), adding a new subsection providing that GS Chapter 89C does not prevent the closure of waste impoundments for animal waste management systems, as defined in GS 143-215.10B(3), by a person who is designated as a Technical Specialist in the Waste Utilization Plan/Nutrient Management Category by the North Carolina Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Adds that new subsection (11) does not apply to the design or installation of a spillway.

    Amends GS 20-381 by adding a new subsection (d) exempting a covered farm vehicle engaged in intrastate commerce from the requirements of 49 CFR 390.21. Adds that the definitions set out in 49 CFR 390.5 apply to new subsection (d).

    Directs the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to exempt covered farm vehicles engaged in intrastate commerce from the requirements of 49 CFR 390.21 until the adoption of rules to amend 14B NCAC 07C .0101 (Safety of Operation and Equipment). Requires DMV to adopt rules to amend 14B NCAC 07C .0101 consistent with the above directive. Provides that the implementation directive as described above expires on the date that the rules adopted pursuant to this act become effective.

    Adds a severability clause.

  • Summary date: Apr 4 2017 - View Summary

    Amends GS 106-498, requiring a satisfactory bond to be furnished by a handler of fruits and vegetables prior to being issued a permit from the Commissioner of Agriculture to contract with a producer. Provides that the bond must be payable to the state and must be conditioned upon the fulfilling of all financial obligations incurred by the handler with all producers with whom the handler transacts business (currently, with whom the handler contracts). Further provides that any producer alleging any injury by fraud, deceit, willful injury, or failure to comply with the terms of any agreement by a handler (currently, with the terms of any written contract by a handler) can bring suit on the bond against the principal and his surety in any court of competent jurisdiction, and can recover the damages found to be caused by those acts. Effective October 1, 2017.

    Amends GS 153A-340, pertaining to the power granted to a county to adopt zoning and development regulation ordinances for the purpose of promoting health, safety, morals, and general welfare. Amends subdivision (1) of subsection (b) to provide that these regulations cannot affect property used for bona fide farm purposes (currently, allows regulations to affect property used for bona fide farm purposes, but limited the regulations as provided in subdivsion (3) concerning swine farms). Makes conforming change to eliminate subdivision (3), and makes technical changes. Makes conforming change to GS 106-743.4(a).

    Directs the Environmental Management Commission (Commission) to classify facilities that store products that are (1) grown, produced, or generated on one or more agricultural operations and (2) that are renewable energy resources as defined in GS 62-133.8(a)(8), as agricultural operations that are exempt from the requirements of 15A NCAC 02D .1806. Establishes that this directive expires on the date that the required permanent rules, as set out below, are adopted. Further, provides that until the effective date of the required revised permanent rule, the Commission is to implement 15A NCAC 02D .1806 as described in the directive above. Directs the Commission to adopt rules to amend 15A NCAC 02D .1806 consistent with the directive to the Commission.

    Amends GS 105-277.3(a), which sets forth classes of property designated as special classes of property that must be appraised, assessed, and taxed as provided in GS 105-277.2 through GS 105-277.7. Amends the provisions concerning agricultural land's income requirement of at least $1,000 for the three years preceding January 1 of the year for which the benefit is claimed, to include income for grazing fees for livestock in the gross income used to meet the income requirement. Effective for taxes imposed for taxable years beginning on or after July 1, 2017. 

    Amends GS 68-17, to add new subsection (b) to provide for abandoned livestock. Deems livestock abandoned when (1) it is placed in the custody of any other person for treatment, boarding, or care; (2) the owner of the livestock does not retake custody of the animal within one month after the last day the owner paid a fee to the custodian for the treatment, boarding, or care of the livestock; and (3) the custodian has made reasonable attempts to collect any past-due fees during the one-month period. Provides the following in the case that, after the one-month period, the custodian of the abandoned livestock has been unsuccessful in collecting the past-due fees and the owner of the livestock has not retaken custody of the livestock. Authorizes the custodian to sell or transfer the livestock by executing an affidavit that identifies the buyer or transferee of the livestock and certifies compliance with the criteria and requirements of new subsection (b). Provides that if the custodian is unable to sell or transfer the livestock, the custodian has the option of otherwise humanely disposing of the abandoned livestock. Requires a custodian to provide written notice of the provisions of new subsection (b) in conspicuous type to the owner of livestock at the time the livestock is delivered for treatment, boarding, or care, as specified.