New Law Aims for More Transparency at Farmers Markets - NBC Connecticut

New Law Aims for More Transparency at Farmers Markets

(Published Friday, Oct. 2, 2015)

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, alongside the Department of Agriculture, presented local farmers with a signed copy of SB-348. The new bill goes into effect Oct. 1 and calls on farmers to list the farm of origin for all Connecticut Grown produce at all 125 farmers markets statewide.

Each violation will cost the farmer at fault $100, rather than the previous fine of $25.

“And if that doesn’t work, we’ll go higher,” Wyman said. “Our farmers should get the credit they deserve.”

The state has received complaints that not all vendors were telling the truth, which the Troubleshooters experienced firsthand.

We went to a local farmers market and asked John Plasko of Plasko’s Farms where he grew his produce. He told us everything comes from his farm in Trumbull. We then visited his farm, asking if he grows honeycrisp apples.

“Honeycrisp?” asked Plasko. “No. We don’t grow any honeycrisp here.”

His crop plan, which farmers file with the state showing exactly what they grow, lists 30 apple trees. When we visited, he showed us six.

He then elaborated, saying mostly everything he sells at farmers markets is grown in Trumbull.

“[When customers ask] where they’re grown, I tell them they’re grown in Cheshire.”

He says he buys things like his honeycrisp apples from another Connecticut farm and labels them accordingly when he sells them at farmers markets. But our undercover video showed, during this visit, he did not indicate any farm’s name. That should change with SB-348.

“There’s still plenty of work to do,” said Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczsky. “We can label products at farm stands [and] we can label products at supermarkets and other venues. I think it’s important, not only to our farmers but to our consumers, that when they spend their dollars on CT Grown, that they are in fact receiving CT Grown.”

Since the new law only concerns produce sold at farmers markets, it does not apply to farm stands or grocery stores.

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