DOAG: COMPLIANCE WITH CONNECTICUT GROWN LAW INCREASING AT FARMERS’ MARKETS, IMPROVEMENT STILL NEEDED


         

 

 

COMPLIANCE WITH CONNECTICUT GROWN LAW INCREASING AT FARMERS’ MARKETS, IMPROVEMENT STILL NEEDED

 November 16, 2017

 

More than 70 Dept. of Agriculture inspections at farmers’ markets this season showed that while the bulk of growers and vendors were following state laws regarding use of the Connecticut Grown label to advertise their products, more compliance is needed.

 

Overall, 62.5% of the 72 growers inspected were in compliance with the law, which requires that price signs bearing the Connecticut Grown label must contain the farm’s name and address, as pictured in the representative sample above.

 

Violation warnings were issued to 27 growers – 21 of which were not in compliance with the price sign requirements.

 

The other six violation warnings stemmed from improper labeling of egg cartons, which must contain the name, address and phone number of the producer, and have removed or obliterated all original labeling information such as trade name, grade, expiration/sell-by dates and the USDA shield.

 

Enacted October 1, 2015, Public Act 15-245, An Act Concerning The Sale Of Farm Products As "Connecticut Grown," requires anyone selling a claimed Connecticut-grown farm product at a farmers' market to do so in the “immediate proximity” of the identifying Connecticut Grown sign.

 

The Department offers free price cards bearing the Connecticut Grown label and space to list the farm’s name and address to anyone selling at farmers’ markets, where sale of out-of-state produce is prohibited. 

 

Growers are also allowed to make their own signs, stating that all products being sold are Connecticut Grown and listing the farm’s name and address.

 

All growers inspected are given a copy of the inspector’s report and the text of the law at the conclusion of the visit.

 

The law calls for violators to receive a warning for a first violation and a $100 fine for each subsequent violation.

 

 

While compliance with the law is improving, awareness of its specific requirements still needs to be increased at the state’s more than 125 farmers’ markets, said Dr. Bruce Sherman, Director of the department’s Bureau of Regulatory Services.

 

“This was the second full season that markets have operated under this law, and our focus remained on educating growers,” Sherman said. “Our goal is simply to ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules, and that the consumer has no question whether a product is actually Connecticut Grown.”

 

Inspections also include areas such as proper food handling and storage requirements regarding meat, poultry, dairy, baked goods eggs and shellfish.

 

No public health violations were found last season.    

 

With an increasing number of farmers’ markets featuring live-animal exhibitions, the inspections also cover whether animals are being shown in compliance with state regulations, including a rabies-warning sign for certain species. 

 

Market masters at all farmers’ markets were supplied with information about the labeling law and the inspection process before the season, and the results of the inspections were shared with market masters at a daylong meeting earlier this month in Hartford held by the Department.

 

The Market Master Muster at the Lyceum Conference Center included a presentation on the Department’s grant programs by marketing representative Jaime Smith, and a roundtable discussion of a variety of market and grower issues moderated by Sue Pronovost, President of the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers’ Association and Executive Director of Brass City Harvest in Waterbury.

 

Dept. of Agriculture inspector Katie Yuhas presented the results of the Connecticut Grown inspections.

 

She suggested that growers can help avoid any labeling violations by using pre-printed Connecticut Grown pricing cards or an ink stamp that contains the farm’s name and address.

 

Other than the Connecticut Grown labeling inspections, Yuhas said the Department last season investigated a small number of formal complaints alleging misrepresentation of product origin at farmers’ markets.

 

Yuhas reminded market masters that all growers selling at farmers’ markets are required to submit crop plans to the Department and to each market at which they sell.

 

The plans, which detail what crops and in what quantity a farm is growing, may be used in complaint investigations.

   

A comprehensive Farmers’ Market Reference Guide detailing all applicable state laws and regulations is available on the department’s website at:

http://www.ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=3260&q=448674