As Sacramento debuted its inaugural Farm-to-Fork Week earlier this month, Governor Brown signed a measure that will help bring consumers closer to the farmers and ranchers who produce the food we eat.
Authored by Assemblyman Rich Gordon (Menlo Park), AB 224 leads the country in defining Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs into statute and provides guidance over the development of CSA regulations.
“This farm to fork legislation expands access to fresh, local produce and will help make our communities healthier,” said Governor Brown in a prepared press release.
Increasingly, Californians seek a direct connection to the food they consume, such as purchasing fresh products at farmers markets or farm stands. CSA is the newest form of direct marketing. In this model, consumers pay a farmer to deliver products and produce to the consumer. This may be done by the consumer coming to the farm or by delivering of a box of produce to the consumer’s home.
The rapid expansion of CSAs in recent years demonstrates that this model is in need of definition and parameters for regulation to support CSA farmers and consumers.
“As CSAs proliferate across the nation, California leads the way in supporting local agriculture efforts by defining CSA into statute and providing assistance in their expansion,” said Gordon. “This law demonstrates the value Californians have placed on knowing the origins of their food and the benefits of eating locally.”
The first of its kind across the country, AB 224 defines CSA, develops regulations under the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), establishes labeling and maintenance requirements of consumer boxes/ containers that are used to deliver farm products, and requires CSAs to maintain records of the contents and the origins of all items included in the boxes. Additionally, the law establishes a statewide CSA registry and requires programs to register with the CDFA and pay an annual fee up to $100.
AB 224 hailed support from both farmers and the CDFA, creating a unique partnership between the organizations with the goal of providing safe, local produce to consumers. The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), a nonprofit organization advocating for California’s family farmers and sustainable agriculture, who also serves as the bill’s co-sponsor, voiced support of AB 224:
"By defining Community Supported Agriculture and granting it the same direct marketing exemptions as farmers' markets, AB 224 ensures that authentic farm-based CSAs will be able to continue to serve California consumers,” said Dave Runsten a spokesperson for CAFF. “By requiring certain food safety practices and full traceability of CSA produce to California farms, this law should reassure CSA subscribers that they are getting the healthy, local food they seek."
Co-sponsored by the California Farm Bureau Federation, Jamie Johansson, an olive and olive oil producer in Butte County and the Bureau’s 2nd Vice President, stated:
“California farmers produce a bounty of nutritious food every day, and Community Supported Agriculture businesses provide consumers a direct connection to this bounty. AB 224 sets simple standards so CSA customers understand what they’re buying and protects the integrity of this successful, growing market.”
The measure will take effect January 1, 2014.
Assemblyman Rich Gordon represents the 24th Assembly District on the San Francisco Peninsula in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, which includes the communities of: North Fair Oaks, Atherton, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Woodside, Portola Valley, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, a portion of Cupertino, and the San Mateo County Coastside – from El Granada to the Santa Cruz County border.
Website of Assemblyman Rich Gordon: www.assembly.ca.gov/Gordon