To borrow a line from Bob Dylan’s famous 60s hit, “Times They Are a-Changin,” a new law implemented in January will bring major changes to California farmers markets.
In the next few weeks you’ll notice that your favorite vendors will no longer be in their usual spots at the farmers markets. With the passing of Assembly Bill 1871, farmers markets all over California will need to make some changes in order to comply with the new law. The primary purpose of the law is intended to reduce the incidence of fraud by vendors selling someone else’s produce, claiming that the food they grow is “certified organic” or “California grown” when it isn’t. The bill is also intended to help educate consumers about where their food is grown and who grew it.
The new law requires that producers of “agricultural products” to be in their own, clearly defined area. If that producer sells any items other than agricultural products (such as art, crafts, baked goods, candies, soaps, balms, perfumes, cosmetics, pottery, clothing, fabrics, pastas, compost, fertilizers, candles, ceramics, foraged foods, etc.) they must sell these items away from those who sell only food.
What does AB 1871 mean to you as a consumer?
Farmers with added value products, such as soap or candles, will now be located in the non-farming section. These farmers will still carry their array of great products, but according to the new law, they will have to be moved to the non-farming section.
Another example is plants sold in baskets or clay pots — nurseries that put their plants in ‘decorative containers’ supposedly have an advantage over nurseries that don’t use baskets or pots according to AB 1871. They also will be moved to the non-farming section.
The new bill also increased the California Department of Agriculture (CDFA) fees that farmers markets are required to pay each month. The fee increase will help to provide additional funding to CDFA to enforce the new regulations.
We ask for your patience and continued support while we organize the appropriate moves for our farmers in order to comply with the new law. You will also begin to notice that all farmers in the market will now have banners hanging in their stall, which will tell the public three things:
- Name of the farm
- Which county the farm is located, and
- The statement, “We Grow What We Sell” or “We Sell What We Grow” — either statement is acceptable.
Farmers that are not certified organic by a third party (like CCOF) may no longer claim their products are “pesticide free,” “naturally grown” or “no spray.” Either they’re organically certified or they are not — end of discussion.
If you have any questions, feel free to speak with Catherine Barr at the markets, or stop by the information booth for more explanation.