Proposing a Tax Refund Contribution Option to the NM Healthy Soil Program

posted in: Policy | 4

The NM Healthy Soil Working Group continues to advocate for resources supporting farmers and ranchers in transitioning to more resilient management approaches. HB 89 “The Healthy Soil Tax Refund Contribution Option” is a way to provide additional funds for the Healthy Soil Program, administered by the NM Department of Agriculture (NMDA).


April 6, 2021
Governor Lujan Grisham signed HB 89 “the Healthy Soil Tax Refund Contribution Option” which means it is now officially enacted into law! Now any New Mexico tax paying resident who qualifies for a refund on their personal income tax return can voluntarily donate all or part of their refund to the Healthy Soil Program administered by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA).

Thank you for all your amazing help during this legislative session!! The exceptional bipartisan support the bill has received is a testament to the vital importance of soil health and the broad grassroots support exhibited by all of you!

With much appreciation,
NM Healthy Soil Working Group

New Mexico State Capitol. Photo by Drew Tarvin (CC BY 2.0)

HB 89 “The Healthy Soil Tax Refund Contribution Option” is sponsored by Representatives Jack Chatfield, Christine Chandler, Nathan Small, Gail Armstrong and Melanie Stansbury. This bill enables all New Mexico residents who qualify for a state tax refund to voluntarily contribute all or part of their refund to the Healthy Soil Program administered by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA). This is a great way to engage the wider citizenry in the value and importance of soil health and stewardship. This is also a good way to raise public awareness and support for the program without asking for an additional state appropriation beyond the critically important requested allocation in NMDA’s budget.

Read the text of the bill

There is broad support for this Bill: A wide cross section of stakeholders and diverse communities is supportive of HB89 and the Healthy Soil Program including the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts, the Food & Ag Policy Council, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, New Mexico Public Health Association, Sierra Club, 350.org, many other agriculture and conservation groups, as well as hundreds of urban and rural residents, producers and consumers.

What is the Healthy Soil Program?

  • The Healthy Soil Program was created by the Healthy Soil Act which was enacted in the 2019 legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support (learn more).
  • The program is administered by NMDA and provides coordinated technical assistance, education, training and grant funding for farmers, ranchers and other land managers engaged in regenerative agriculture and soil stewardship.
  • The program encourages the core principles: keeping soil covered, minimizing soil disturbance, maximizing biodiversity, integrating animals, and maintaining a living root.

Why is the Healthy Soil Program important?

  • The program and adoption of these principles can have a major impact on water retention, public health, producer success, rural economic development, pollution reduction, carbon sequestration and working lands resiliency(see the many benefits of soil health).
  • NMDA is successfully administering the program in coordination with the following eligible entities: soil and water conservation districts, pueblos & tribes, acequias, land grants and cooperative extension.
  • Demand for the Healthy Soil Program is strong and widespread, far exceeding appropriated state funds: during the first two years of the program 177 grant applications were received coming from all around the state and 63 applications (35%) were funded. There were nearly $3 million in total requests with $600,000 (20%) ultimately awarded.
  • There has been significant leveraging of resources for this program, including from USDA/NRCS, a State Conservation Innovation Grant, and foundation funding. New prospects include federal block grants for states with Healthy Soil programs like New Mexico’s.

For more information, visit NMDA’s HSP website, email hsp@nmda.nmsu.edu or call 575-646-2642.



4 Responses

  1. Geri Rhodes

    Will any of the refund go toward making Rio Grande irrigation water less toxic with pesticides, herbicides, and commercial fertilizers?
    Geri Rhodes

    • admin

      Geri: Thank you for this question! The Healthy Soil Program is anchored in the healthy soil principles –the second principle states to “minimize inputs”, such as chemical inputs you mention, which harm the soil microbiome.

  2. Ron Monsour

    People will want to know like I do, How does one get a Grant and what does it entail?

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