South Carolina General Assembly
125th Session, 2023-2024

Bill 3951

Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter

(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)

Indicates Matter Stricken

Indicates New Matter


Committee Amendment Adopted


H. 3951

Introduced by Reps Haddon, G. M. Smith, Bannister, Hiott, Ligon, Hixon, Leber, Erickson, Forrest, Brewer, Murphy, Robbins, Willis, Calhoon, Pope, Davis and M. M. Smith


S. Printed 01/30/24--S.

Read the first time March 30, 2023













A bill


TO AMEND THE SOUTH CAROLINA CODE OF LAWS by enacting THE "WORKING AGRICULTURAL LANDS PRESERVATION ACT" by adding Chapter 57 TO title 46 so as to define terms, establish a committee, and outline program criteria, among other things.

    Amend Title To Conform


Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:


SECTION 1.  Section 48-59-40(A) and (B) of the S.C. Code is amended to read:


    Section 48-59-40.  (A) There is established the South Carolina Conservation Bank. The bank is governed by a fourteen-memberseventeen-member board selected as follows:

       (1) the Chairman of the Board for the Department of Natural Resources, the Chairman of the South Carolina Forestry Commission, the Commissioner of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, or their designees, all of whom shall serve ex officio and without voting privileges;

       (2) three members appointed by the Governor from the State at large;

       (3) four members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, one each from the Third, Fourth, and Sixth Congressional Districts and one member from the State at large;  and

       (4) four members appointed by the President of the Senate, one each from the First, Second, Fifth, and Seventh Congressional Districts.

    (B)(1) In making their respective appointments to the board, the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President Pro Tempore of the Senate shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the members of the board reflect the state's racial and gender diversity.

       (2) Each member of the board must possess experience in the areas of natural resources, land development, forestry, farming, finance, land conservation, real estate, or law.


SECTION 2.  Chapter 59, Title 48 of the S.C. Code is amended by adding:


    Section 48-59-150. (A) There is established in the State Treasury the Working Farmland Protection Fund for the purpose of providing permanent protection to working farmland properties whose continued availability to commercial agricultural businesses is essential to the long-term future of the economic sector. Balances in the fund must be retained and carried forward annually and interest earned on balances in the fund must be credited to the fund.

    (B) The Working Farmland Protection Fund must be used by the bank only for the purpose of awarding grants to eligible trust fund recipients for the purchase of interests in farmland in which a landowner derives at least fifty percent of his income.

    (C) When evaluating applications for grants under this section, the bank must use the criteria set forth in Section 48-59-70(D), except for Section 48-59-70(D)(9) and Section 48-59-70(D)(13), along with the following criteria:

       (1) the authority of the owner of the working farmland property to make the subject farmland available via lease or transfer of the protected property to another farmer or other farmers so as to advance the goal of preserving and increasing access to farmland for new and expanding farms;

       (2) the threat of conversion of the working farmland property such that it would become unavailable for commercial production of agricultural products;

       (3) the percentage of soils classified by the United States Department of Agriculture as prime farmland, unique farmland, farmland of statewide importance, and farmland of local importance;

       (4) the agricultural structures and improvements associated with the working farmland property;

       (5) the economic viability of the working farmland property in terms of current and potential future commercial agricultural activities in local, regional, and statewide markets; connection of the working farmland property to agricultural services including processors, aggregators, and distributors; and the number of on-farm jobs supported by the working farmland property;

       (6) the multiple natural resources values associated with the working farmland property, including open space land, forested land and wetlands, riparian buffers, wildlife habitat, and freshwater aquifers; and

       (7) whether the working farmland is located or serving in an underserved or underprivileged community.


SECTION 3.  This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.


This web page was last updated on January 30, 2024 at 06:14 PM