The New Jersey Department of Agriculture is proposing new rules to set forth definitions, the standard for classification, and the penalties for mislabeling or otherwise misidentifying farm products sold in New Jersey as “local” (N.J.A.C. 2:71-10). Based on review of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food program information, there is no national definition of “local,” “locally grown,” or “locally produced” for farm products, such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and cheese. As a result, farm products that are grown and/or produced some significant distance away can still be labeled and marketed in New Jersey as “local” with no other information about the origin of the farm products. To better inform New Jersey consumers and furnish assistance to the public with reference to buying farm products, the Department is proposing a classification standard of “local” or variations of the word “local.” The identification of “local” farm products will help to avoid consumer confusion about the source of “local” farm products they find available in the Garden State. In addition, the proposed new rules will allow farmers to compete effectively in the Garden State’s “local” market. In accordance with this proposal, to be labeled, marketed, or identified for sale in New Jersey as local, farm products must be grown or produced in New Jersey or must be clearly identified as grown or produced in another locality and another state when that other state is not New Jersey (local to Anytown, Anystate.) The proposed new rules do not exclude any producers, growers, or marketers of farm products from offering their products for sale in New Jersey. The proposed new rules only affect the use of the classification standard “local,” “locally grown,” and “locally produced” to describe farm products sold in New Jersey.
Written comments must be submitted by July 3, 2015 to Alfred W. Murray, Assistant Secretary/Division Director, Dept. of Agriculture, P.O. Box 330, Trenton, NJ 08625-0330; or by e-mailing them to: proposedrulesMarkets@ag.state.nj.us.