On Monday, Governor Brown signed AB 768, authored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), into law. This bill makes the Direct Marketing Program operated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) permanent. The program empowers our state’s farmers to sell their produce and products directly to customers at Certified Farmers’ Markets without being required to follow the same packing and labeling requirements as products in grocery stores.
CDFA’s Direct Marketing Program was first signed into law by Governor Brown in 1977. The continued success of this program for forty years proves how integral California’s certified farmers’ markets and direct marketing economy have been to the state’s agricultural community, since long before the “farm-to- fork” movement was popular.
According to Aguiar-Curry, “In Assembly District 4, Yolo, Napa, Lake, Sonoma, Solano, and Colusa Counties all have a strong agricultural culture and robust network of community farmers’ markets. People from the area gather together at these markets each week to connect with one another, and with the farmers and agricultural products produced in the region.”
The CDFA’s Direct Marketing Program fosters consumer confidence in agricultural products purchased at certified farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture organizations, and local farm stands. Without the oversight provided through this program, agricultural products could be bought from other farms, out of the state, or wholesale at stores, and then sold at a premium price under the guise of being “locally-grown.” With approximately 700 Certified Farmers’ Markets and 2,200 certified producers in California, this consumer protection is critical.
“I am honored to play a role in making this important agricultural program permanent, so that we empower our California growers may continue to market and sell directly to their local communities,” said Aguiar-Curry. “The Direct Marketing Program ensures that anyone in our state can purchase locally grown foods from Certified Farmers’ Markets and farm stands with confidence in the products they are buying.”
This is the first of Aguiar-Curry’s bills to be presented to the Governor, and the first to be signed. Aguiar-Curry is hoping to keep up this momentum as the 2016-17 Legislative Session heads into its final few weeks.■