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AB-417 Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Act.(2019-2020)



SECTION 1.

 Article 7.5 (commencing with Section 540) is added to Chapter 3 of Part 1 of Division 1 of the Food and Agricultural Code, to read:

Article  7.5. Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Act
540.
 This article shall be known, and may be cited, as the Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Act.
541.
 (a) The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(1) The economies of rural California are heavily dependent upon natural resources and working landscapes that benefit the entire state, but rural communities often suffer higher poverty and unemployment rates than their urban and suburban counterparts.
(2) Agriculture is the predominant use of land in, and a major component of the economic viability of, rural California, and significantly contributes to the overall well-being of rural communities, including by increasing employment and business opportunities, improving environmental health, strengthening infrastructure, and enhancing quality of life.
(3) Due to the central role of agriculture in rural California, it is necessary to achieve a detailed understanding of the economic value that agriculture brings to rural communities and to identify opportunities to improve agricultural productivity, including by increasing broadband access, advancing agricultural innovation, technology, and education, and supporting a well-trained, productive rural workforce, to benefit rural communities.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that the secretary support rural California and have, in the executive office of the department, a position to facilitate that support.
542.
 For purposes of this article, the following terms have the following meanings:
(a) “Agency” includes, but is not limited to, a public office, officer, department, division, bureau, board, or commission.
(b) “Rural” refers to an area that has a population of less than 50,000 and is therefore not an urbanized area, as defined in the 2010 Standards for Delineating Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas published by the United States Office of Management and Budget in Volume 75 of the Federal Register, beginning on page 37246, on June 23, 2010.
543.
 (a) To support rural communities and further the development of rural agricultural economies in California, the secretary, in addition to any other authority, may do the following:
(1) Consult with federal, state, and local agencies and all interested members of the public and private sectors to identify opportunities and partnerships to further the development of rural agricultural economies, including by coordinating rural development programs.
(2) Disseminate on the department’s internet website information, including information provided by federal, state, and local agencies, on opportunities to improve agricultural productivity and further the development of rural agricultural economies.
(3) Review and disseminate economic data compiled by the department on agriculture in rural communities, including reports submitted pursuant to this code.
(4) Prepare reports on the role of agriculture in rural economies, including reports investigating the impact of resource constraints and regulatory compliance requirements on rural agricultural economies.
(b) The secretary shall establish a position within the department’s executive office to assist the secretary in carrying out the purposes of this article. The person appointed to that position shall report to the secretary. The position shall carry responsibilities that may include, but are not limited to, both of the following:
(1) Advising the secretary on matters relating to rural agricultural economies.
(2) Making recommendations to the secretary on actions to further the development of rural agricultural economies, including, but not limited to, increasing broadband access, providing technical, resource, and regulatory compliance assistance, advancing agricultural innovation and technology, establishing programs for education and workforce development, and evaluating recreation and tourism opportunities.
545.
 (a) There is in the Department of Food and Agriculture Fund the Rural Economic Development Account.
(b) The Rural Economic Development Account shall consist of public and private moneys that are deposited in the account.
(c) All moneys deposited in the Rural Economic Development Account shall be available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to carry out the purposes of this article.