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Legislation on farmer's markets leading to undue diligence

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California is something of a trendsetter when it comes to the localist movement, and nowhere is it more visible than in its large number of farmer's markets- at last count nearly 800 statewide. Trouble is, the regulations regarding provenance exist mostly on the local level, and are neither significant nor severe. The most established farmers’ markets, like the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, are very careful about provenance, but smaller, newer markets are not always so exacting.

Shoppers take on trust that vendors selling us local, organic produce are actually selling, you know, local, organic produce. Preliminary research and reporting has revealed a lot of possible fraud going on, and that's what new legislation (designated AB 1871) claims it's trying to fight against.

The full text of the proposed bill is here: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=2013...

One of the bill’s most significant provisions involves raising the daily stall fee charged by those farmers markets certified by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (at CDFA.ca.gov) . If Governor Jerry Brown agrees and signs AB 1871, the fee will rise in January from a current maximum of 50 cents per vendor to $2.

The additional funds will go to the state, which runs the enforcement program. Some will be allocated to hiring inspectors, but the lion's share will be for reimbursing county agricultural commissioners, who provide the existing line of defense against markets and farms that fraudulently peddle imported produce under their own auspices.

Another main point in the legislation is the increasing of the fines that can be imposed for violations, some even including the addition of up to 6 months of jail time.

The long and short of it seems to be that this bill will lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive enforcement panel regarding the sourcing and marketing of small-scale food distribution. It's undergone committee revisions already, and appears to have itself in order when it crosses the governor's desk.

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