SECTION 4. Chapter 29 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 2QQQQ the following section:-
Section 2RRRR. There shall be a fund to be known as the Massachusetts Agricultural Disaster Relief Fund. The money in this fund shall be expended to assist farmers in the commonwealth who have suffered agricultural losses, financial losses, or property damage due to natural disasters.
The Massachusetts Agriculture Relief Fund may receive money from: (i) gifts, grants and donations from public or private sources; (ii) federal reimbursements and grants-in-aid (iii) any appropriations authorized by the general court specifically designated to be credited to the fund; and (iv) any interest earned from the fund. The state treasurer shall be the custodian of the fund and shall receive, deposit and invest all money transmitted under this section to ensure the highest interest rate available consistent with the safety of the fund. The books and records of the fund shall be subject to an annual audit by the state auditor. The department of agricultural resources may expend money in the fund and no expenditure from the fund shall cause it to be in deficiency at the close of a fiscal year. The commissioner of agricultural resources shall report annually to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on environment, natural resources and agriculture on income received into the fund and sources of that income, any expenditure from the fund and the purpose of that expenditure and the fund’s balance. Money in the fund at the end of the fiscal year shall not revert to the General Fund and shall be available for expenditure in the subsequent year and shall not be subject to section 5C of chapter 29.
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