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AB-2574 Veteran farmers and ranchers.(2015-2016)

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Amended  IN  Senate  June 15, 2016
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 11, 2016
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 28, 2016

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2015–2016 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 2574


Introduced by Assembly Member Chávez
(Coauthor: Coauthors: Assembly Member Cooper Members Cooper, Brown, Lopez, and Mathis)

February 19, 2016


An act to add Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 1168) to Part 3.5 of Division 2 of the Labor Code, relating to veterans.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2574, as amended, Chávez. Veteran farmers and ranchers.
Existing law establishes the Labor and Workforce Development Agency and provides that the agency consists of, among other entities, the California Workforce Investment Board, the Employment Development Department, and the Employment Training Panel. Existing law establishes within state government a Department of Veterans Affairs and a Department of Food and Agriculture. Existing law provides for a variety of state benefits to veterans, including those relating to educational assistance and farm and home purchases, as specified.
This bill, by July 1, 2017, bill would require a collaboration of state departments, including, but not limited to, the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to develop develop, by July 1, 2017, a New Veteran Farmer and Rancher Outreach and Assistance Plan to disseminate information to veterans in California about, among other things, federal and state veteran agricultural education, training, and other assistance programs, as provided. The bill would authorize other public or private sector resources to be included in that dissemination if the resources meet certain requirements. dissemination. The bill would also make findings and declarations in this regard.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 1168) is added to Part 3.5 of Division 2 of the Labor Code, to read:
CHAPTER  9. Veteran Farmers or Ranchers

1168.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The United States Census Bureau data for 2015 estimates an approximate global population totaling 7.25 billion people, requiring increased capacity to provide an adequate food supply while global resources for producing food are dwindling.

(b)The average age of farmers across the United States is on the rise. In 1978, 16.4 percent of principal farm operators were over 65 years of age and by 2012, the average age of farmers increased to 33 percent of principal farm operators being over 65 years of age.

(b) The average age of farmers across the United States is on the rise, 58.3 years of age as of 2012. In 1978, 16.4 percent of principal farm operators were over 65 years of age and by 2012 increased to 33 percent.
(c) An 8-percent national decrease in the number of farmers and ranchers is expected to occur between the years 2008 and 2018.
(d) The current social and educational infrastructure is inadequate to serve the needs of farmers and ranchers in California and elsewhere.
(e) According to the 2012 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Census of Agriculture, 22 percent of all farmers were beginning farmers in 2012, with minority and historically underrepresented communities constituting part of the continued growth among new and beginning farmers and ranchers.
(f) There is expanding recognition of new populations considering enterprises in farming and ranching that require requires a repositioning of classrooms and targeted educational resources outreach.
(g) According to the USDA, the sales value generated by California agriculture increased by 4.6 percent between the 2012 and 2013 crop years. The state’s 77,900 farms and ranches received forty-six billion four hundred million dollars ($46,400,000,000) for their outputs, ranking California as the nation’s largest in cash receipts, with the next leading states being Iowa and Nebraska.
(h) In response to the need to identify new population segments entering farming and ranching-related fields, the federal 2014 United States farm bill, known as the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79), contained various landmark incentives to assist America’s veterans returning from military service to acquire skills needed to start and manage a farm and successfully enter the business of farming and ranching. Incentives include, but are not limited to, education and training, technical assistance, rehabilitation, and eligibility for USDA Microloans offering a simplified application process and favorable interest rates.
(i) More than six million veterans reside in rural America and two million veterans are residents of California.

1168.2.
 For purposes of this chapter, “veteran farmer or rancher” means a farmer or rancher who meets both of the following requirements:
(a) Has not operated a farm or ranch or has not operated a farm or ranch for more than 10 years.
(b) Has served in the Armed Forces of the United States including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard of the United States, Reserves, Army National Guard, and Air National Guard.

1168.3.
 (a) By July 1, 2017, a collaboration of state departments, including, but not limited to, the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, shall develop a New Veteran Farmer and Rancher Outreach and Assistance Plan to disseminate information, electronically and through America’s Job Center of California locations and through any other already available means, to veterans in California about state veteran and agricultural education, training, and other assistance programs, and federal veteran and agricultural education, training, and other assistance programs and resources offered through the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79) and any other subsequent federal acts related to agriculture.
(b) Other public or private sector resources may also be included in the dissemination described in subdivision (a) if these resources (1) offer guaranteed loans or other support to new veteran farmers or ranchers to assist in meeting their needs, including, but not limited to, loans for farm ownership through the Veterans' Farm and Home Purchase Act of 1974, which is known as the Cal-Vet loan program, as well as operating loans, loans for land acquisition and improvement and other needs, as appropriate, or (2) support eligible traditional and nontraditional organizations serving veterans, or veteran applicants applying and qualifying for federal funding authorized by the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79) and any other subsequent federal agricultural Acts. (a).