Urban Agriculture State Legislation
Recent Notable Enacted Legislation
NCSL Staff Contact
Updated July 2013
Agriculture in urban areas has risen in popularity in recent years due to an interest in local food sources, farmers’ markets and transforming small parcels of vacant land into areas of production, as well as urban land’s close proximity to markets. In recent years, 11 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to increase access to urban land for agricultural or livestock production. Municipalities are also assisting local food producers to increase access to urban food markets.
Recent Notable Enacted Legislation
SB 106 (2010)
Created a Food Systems Advisory Council to develop recommendations that promote local food economies. The recommendations may include an examination of local and regional efforts to develop local food economies by identifying regulatory and policy barriers and strengthening local infrastructure and entrepreneurial efforts, the potential effects of local food economies on economic development in Colorado or other food access and economic topics.
District of Columbia
B 967 (2011)
This bill established two programs to increase healthy food access in underserved areas. The bill also established a working group to develop a plan for establishing a commercial distribution system for fresh produce and healthy foods to corner stores. The working group must include a representative of urban farming and community gardens and will issue recommendations to the Mayor and the Council.
HB 560 (2013)
Authorizes the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation to provide incentives for the development of housing projects that incorporate urban gardening programs. Requires the college of tropical agriculture and human resources of University of Hawaii at Manoa to be consulted regarding best practices.
HB 1300 (2007)
This bill, titled the Illinois Food, Farm and Jobs Act, established the Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force. The task force will develop policy and funding recommendations for expanding the state’s local and organic food systems. The task force will examine opportunities to increase local food production, identify legal impediments to local food production, identity land preservation and acquisition opportunities for local and organic agriculture in suburban and urban areas, and identify means to expand urban agriculture training programs, among other provisions.
HB 3990 (2009)
The Local Food, Farms and Jobs Act set a goal that 20 percent of all food products purchased by state agencies and state-owned facilities be local farm or food products by 2020. It removed a barrier to purchasing locally grown food by giving preference to locally grown food. The bill also created the Local Food, Farms and Jobs Council. The council will help local farm and food entrepreneurs identify and secure resources and equipment to expand projects and build infrastructure and use of public lands for growing local food products, among other goals.
HB 840 (2010)
Created the Louisiana Sustainable Local Food Policy Council to consider a number of policies, including analysis of how best to promote urban and backyard gardens, evaluation of the effects of sustainable local food production on economic development, identification of local and regional efforts that provide information and training to entrepreneurs and local farmers who are pursuing sustainable local food economic development opportunities, and identification and development of solutions to regulatory and policy barriers that inhibit sustainable local food economies among other provisions.
HB 1848 (2010)
This bill established the Joint Committee on Urban Agriculture. The committee must study and make recommendations regarding the impact of urban farm cooperatives, vertical farming and sustainable living communities and must examine various trends in urban farming; existing services, resources, and capacity; the impact on affected communities; and any needed legislation, policies, or regulations. The committee must hold meetings to seek public input.
AB 2859 (2011)
Authorized the sale and lease of unneeded public property to nonprofits for gardening and urban farming. Exempted such urban farms from property taxation and authorized such nonprofits to sell fresh fruits and vegetables on the leased land, off the leased land, or both under certain conditions.
AB 3688 (2011)
This bill created the New Jersey Fresh Mobiles Initiative Pilot Program. The pilot program will operate in one or more municipalities, selected by the Secretary of Agriculture, in which residents have limited access to nutritious foods through supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers’ markets, which agree to participate in the program. The Department of Agriculture shall identify, on its Internet website, the municipalities selected for participation, and the vendor supply areas at which, and the times during which, fresh mobile vendors will be accessible for community residents.
SB 614/AB 1389 (2011)
Added the financing of the transportation and distribution of New York state farm grown products to food service markets, including restaurants, schools, colleges, and others, especially in underserved urban and other communities, as an eligible activity for grants and loans.
SB 1067 (2009)
Created a Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council to help build a local food economy. The council can consider the possibility of promoting urban gardens and backyard gardens and analyze the potential effects of production of sustainable local food on economic development in the state, barriers to a sustainable local food economy and issues regarding strengthening local infrastructure and entrepreneurial efforts related to a sustainable local food economy, among other goals. The council must report findings and recommendations annually.
HB 2833 (2008)
Established the Oklahoma Food Security Committee to continue until Dec. 31, 2012 to increase food access and food security. Duties include indentifying, implementing, and monitoring ways to encourage use of home and community gardens for food production.
HB 2774 (2010)
Established the Oklahoma Certified Healthy Communities Act and the creation of the Oklahoma Certified Healthy Community Advisory Committee. Criteria for eligibility include the establishment of community gardens and incentives and support for farmers’ markets.
Texas Agriculture Code Ann. §44A.001 through .005 (HB 2994) (2011)
The State authorized the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority’s Board of Directors to establish an urban farm microenterprise support program. The program supplies loans that expand, renovate, improve or establish new urban farm microenterprise programs. Urban farms must be owner-operated and located in areas of 500,000 persons.
SB 122 (2012)
Allowed parcel in Salt Lake County between two and five acres to be assessed at lower property rates if the land is used to grow crops for sale at a profit (excluding livestock) as long as production is greater than 50 percent of average production for similar land. The bill also provided for rollback of some of the benefit of the lower property tax rate when or if the land is sold for development.