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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 35KKK: Agricultural Innovation Fund

Section 35KKK. (a) There shall be an Agricultural Innovation Fund. The fund shall finance grants for the commonwealth's agricultural and cranberry producers through the agricultural innovation center for programs that may add value to the producers' products and services. The center shall develop an outreach program to identify and foster new, innovative ideas and approaches to adding value to the commonwealth's agricultural and cranberry economy. The center may solicit requests from the commonwealth's agricultural and cranberry industry for funding and technical assistance in: (i) reclamation and revitalization of cranberry bogs; (ii) training, marketing, distribution, applied research, agritourism, aquaculture, forestry, processing, fiber and agricultural resource management research, development, poultry and red meat processing and construction of energy efficient agricultural buildings and structures; and (iii) research, development and construction of energy efficient agricultural equipment. Grants shall be administered in a manner developed by the advisory committee established under subsection (c).

(b) The fund shall consist of: (i) any revenues or other financing sources directed to the fund by appropriation; (ii) bond revenues or other monies authorized by the general court and specifically designated to be credited to the fund; (iii) any income derived from the investment of amounts credited to the fund or repayment of loans from the fund; (iv) funds from public or private sources including, but not limited to, gifts, federal or private grants, donations, rebates and settlements received by the commonwealth that are specifically designated to be credited to the fund; and (v) all other amounts credited or transferred into the fund from any other source. The department of agricultural resources shall seek to maximize fund revenues through federal monies, matching funds and grants. The fund shall be administered by the commissioner of agricultural resources in consultation, with the advisory committee established under subsection (c), subject to approval by the secretary of administration and finance. Any unexpended balances in the fund at the end of the fiscal year shall not revert to the General Fund and shall be available for expenditures in the subsequent fiscal year.

(c) There shall be an advisory committee that shall consist of the commissioner of agricultural resources, who shall serve as chair and 12 persons to be appointed by the governor, 2 of whom shall have academic or research experience in the agriculture and cranberry economy and 10 of whom shall be from geographically diverse regions of the commonwealth, with at least 1 from the following sectors: (i) horticulture; (ii) cranberry growing; (iii) dairy farming; (iv) raising livestock; and (v) raising crops. The agricultural innovation center shall consult with the advisory committee in matters related to the fund and in the implementation of this section.

The advisory committee shall file an annual report detailing the amount, types, and nature of grants made and the impacts of the grants with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate not later than September 30.

The advisory committee shall annually hold at least 1 public hearing to receive public testimony to inform its efforts in developing and deploying grant programs.

(d) Annually, not later than December 1, the commissioner of agricultural resources shall report on the activities of the fund to the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate and to the house and senate committees on ways and means. The report shall include an accounting of expenditures made from the fund with a description of the authorized purpose of each expenditure, an accounting of amounts credited to the fund and any unexpended balance remaining in the fund.