The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Agriculture is one of the most important industries in California. Gross income from production agriculture annually exceeds twenty-six billion eight hundred million dollars ($26,800,000,000). Support industries in agricultural marketing, business, research, communications, and education contribute another ten billion dollars ($10,000,000,000) to the state's economy and exports annually exceeds six billion dollars ($6,000,000,000).
(b) During 1998, approximately 399,000 agricultural jobs were performed by farmworkers, who, through their tireless efforts, have contributed greatly to the success of the agricultural industry.
(c) There is currently no comprehensive agricultural education program for California's pupils. According to the National Academy of Sciences, most Americans have insufficient knowledge about the social and economic significance of agriculture and its links to human health and environmental quality. Many of the challenges facing the state clearly require an understanding of these linkages if solutions are to be found. These challenges include changing demographics, rapid urbanization, responding to worldwide food and fiber supply needs, changing domestic and world trade policies, and increased global competition in raw agricultural commodities and value added products.
(d) Pupils need to understand all of the following:
(1) The role that agriculture plays in the economy.
(2) The role science plays in changing agriculture.
(3) The relationship of agriculture and the environment.
(4) The wide variety of employment opportunities that exist in the industry.
(e) A basic education across curriculum subjects, and grade levels can strengthen students' understanding, of agriculture and its fundamental importance to society.
(f) It is in the best interest of the public that a statewide comprehensive program, with state level coordination and regional delivery, be established to infuse agricultural education into a broad range of academic subject areas, provide a stronger career preparation program to meet the needs of a dynamic and competitive agricultural industry in California, and to provide for better informed citizens in the state.
(Added by Stats. 1999, Ch. 965, Sec. 1.)