CHAPTER 118

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 307

AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENTS NOS. 1 AND 2

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 3 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE BY PROVIDING FOR AGRICULTURAL LANDS PRESERVATION AND TO AMEND CHAPTER 81 OF TITLE 29 OF THE DELAWARE CODE BY ADDING AN AGRICULTURAL LANDS PRESERVATION SECTION.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend Part I of Title 3 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new chapter, designated as Chapter 9, which new chapter shall read as follows:

"Chapter 9, Agricultural Lands Preservation

§901. Short Title

This Act shall be known and may be cited as the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Act of 1981.

§902. Statement of Legislative Finding

(a) The General Assembly finds and declares that the State's farmlands are dwindling at an alarming rate, having decreased by approximately 200,000 acres in the past twenty-five years; and that the tontinued loss of farmland, in Delaware and elsewhere, threatens our national economic and social Interests; and that the Governor's Advisory Committee on Farmland Preservation, established by Executive Order Number Eighty-four, dated March 12, 1980, has completed its work and recommended a course of action.

(b) The General Assembly further finds that maintenance of a viable agricultural base requires the protection and preservation of those areas best suited for agricultural production.

§903. Statement of Policy

The following shall be State policy as relating to the preservation of agricultural lands:

(a) It shall be state policy that (1) agricultural activities have a primary relationship to the maintenance of the quality of life and a desirable standard of living in Delaware; (2) farming is the highest priority use of those areas best suited for agricultural production; (3) public actions which adversely Impact agriculture shall be avoided without an ample finding of public need; and (4) preservation of the State's farmlands and woodlands is clearly in the public Interest;

(b) It shall be state policy to conserve, protect and enhance the State's agricultural economic base for production of food, fiber, and fuel, and to preserve these resources for their natural and ecological values for open spaces, recreational uses, wildlife habitats, and aesthetic purposes;

(c) It shall be State policy to encourage the improvement of agricultural operations in order to maintain agriculture as a viable industry and an important contributor to Delaware's economy.

§904. Duties and Responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture and Other Agencies.

(a) The Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Office of Management, Budget, and Planning, shall carry out the policies set forth in this Chapter;

(b) The Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Office of Management, Budget, and Planning, shall identify and map those farmlands which, because of their soil type, current or potential productivity, ownership, or location are of concern to preservation and shall routinely collect, analyze and report on the extent, location, and causes of farmland loss;

(c) The Department of Agriculture and the Office of Management, Budget, and Planning shall cooperatively review the data collected and recommend techniques to maintain agriculture as an important and viable economic activity In Delaware. The Department of Agriculture and the Office of Management, Budget and Planning shall assist other public agencies in the development of facility plans and programs in order to minimize adverse impacts on agriculture In accordance with the State polices;

(d) All other State departments and agencies shall, to the maximum extent permissible under State law, cooperate with the Department of Agriculture in carrying out the State policies on the maintenance and preservation of agricultural activities;

(e) The Department of Agriculture and the Office of Management, Budget, and Planning shall encourage the active participation of agricultural and other interests, county and local governments, and the general public in activities which will be supportive of these State policies; and

(f) The Department of Agriculture and the Office of Management, Budget, and Planning are hereby specifically authorized and instructed to develop administrative agreements or other evidence of understanding setting forth their respective duties and responsibilities.

§905. Reports

The Secretary of Agriculture shall report at least annually to the Governor, the General Assembly, and the Governor's Council on Agriculture on the extent, location, and causes of farmland loss.

Section 2.

(a) Amend Section §103 of Title 29 of the Delaware Code by inserting a new subsection §103(3) to read:

"(3) Establish an Agricultural Lands Preservation Section within the Office of the Secretary and appoint such personnel as may be necessary for the administration of the duties set forth In Chapter 9 of Title 3 of the Delaware Code as enacted by this Act. Employees of this Section shall be entitled to the provisions of Chapter 59, Title 29, of the Delaware Code."

(b) Amend Section §103 of Title 29 of the Delaware Code by redcsignating subsections §103(3) through §103(9) as subsections 8103(4) through §103(10).

Section 3.

This Act shall become effective when signed by the Governor."

Approved July 7, 1981.