Healthy Soils Legislation


Signing of Healthy Soils Legislation in Maryland, 201_.

Philip Bogdonoff (second from right in red shirt), Director of Bio4Climate’s DC Chapter and member of our Executive Board, played a key role in its passage.

UPDATE: By Philip Bogdonoff, March 30, 2021

Philip continues to be involved with several groups who are focused on Montgomery County’s Climate Action Plan, and has contributed to the language in many of the recommendation reports, particularly focusing on sequestration through nature-based solutions (especially regenerative agriculture, and protection of wetlands and forests).

He was intensively involved as a member of a core group of about a dozen people, ultimately representing 62 environmental, agriculture, and citizen groups in the County, as we worked to educate Montgomery County council members about the importance of including additional language in a proposed “Zoning Text Amendment” to protect the primacy of agricultural soils while still enabling the development of commercial scale solar arrays on land in the County’s 93,000 acre “Agricultural Reserve”. Our efforts to add those protection prevailed when the council recently voted 7-2 in favor of our suggested additional amendments.

He was invited by the Maryland Secretary of Agriculture, Joseph Bartenfelder, to become a member of the Maryland Dept, of Agriculture’s Soil Health Advisory Committee. At the beginning of 2021, the main committee of about 30+ members was split into three subcommittees so that we could divide and review a list of about 30 or so “best practices” to be considered for their effectiveness and implementability for improving soil health. His subgroup on Cover Crops and Conservation Tillage practices did a review to present to the full committee. The other two subgroups[2] are now preparing their recommendations as well.

He is also currently attending the monthly meetings of Healthy Soils Frederick (HSF), a group of farmers, scientists, and activists who are working to advance consideration of healthy soils and regenerative agriculture in Frederick County, Md. My purpose is to learn a bit more about the issues facing an even more rural county, and to share with the HSF what is happening in the State’s Soil Health Advisory Committee.


Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, the Northeast Organic Farming Association, legislative expert Steven Keleti and Soil4Climate collaborate to file the Massachusetts Healthy Soils legislation!

Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), Steven Keleti and Soil4Climate have ushered the Massachusetts Healthy Soils bill to filing in the House of Representatives.

As of May 15, 2018 it has been attached to the Bond Bill, and among others our Board member, Sharon McGregor, has given testimony that was heard with much interest by Committee members.

This bill will provide the basis and support in law for critical work in regenerative agriculture in Massachusetts; it also establishes a funding structure to do so (it does not require the legislature to fund it at this point, but allows other fundraising options).

Sharon’s compelling testimony is here.

UPDATE:  By Sharon McGregor, April 1, 2021

Biodiversity for a Livable Climate proposed to the MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs that they undertake a statewide assessment of soil health and develop an action plan for healthy soils.  This they did.  We served on the working group of scientists and policy makers, and contributed significantly to the content of the MA Healthy Soils Action Plan.  Our most important contribution was the inclusion of ecological restoration of soils, in addition to the protection and improved management of soils, as a key action item across land use categories (forests, wetlands, managed landscapes, and urbanized lands).  There is much to be gained through restoration of soils, with regard to restored biology and ecological interactions, retention of water on the landscape to recover small water cycles, and carbon drawdown.  The MA Healthy Soils Action Plan, to be published shortly, will not only guide Massachusetts’ protection and restoration of soils, but will serve as a model for similar actions in states across America.  We will advocate for this through the U.S. Climate Alliance of states.