From the State of California proposed rule changes for direct sales by farmers

Attention farmers and shoppers the following are proposed rule changes for direct sales by farmers.  Please take send any comments you have to


As some of you may know, the California Department of Food and Agriculture recently created an Ad-Hoc committee to look into various issues related to direct marking. This committee addressed a number of topics, including changes to farmers’ markets and farm stands. Out of that committee has come a list of draft recommendations. I’ve attached a copy of the document for you all to review as some of the recommendations will impact you directly. The changes currently proposed are significant and the more voices providing input the better.



Proposed Recommendations Goals

 Establishing an effective network of communication that will allow for collaboration with entities such as the Food Access Advisory Group in expanding access to fresh and healthy agricultural products via direct marketing, and;

 Ensuring that all direct marketing models explored (e.g., CSA, CFM, farm stand) adhere to the intent of Ag Vision 2030, specifically, improving access to safe, healthy food for all Californians, and;

promoting robust regional markets for all California producers




After establishing a baseline, the farm stand and selling committees merged.

Farm Stand objectives included:

§ Establishing guidelines and an enforcement model to mitigate the misrepresentation which occurs at some roadside stands.


Selling objectives included:

§ Exploring the feasibility of allowing growers to be able to sell product of their own production direct to a consumer outside of existing direct marketing models, and;

§ Providing a structure which would allow for additional direct marketing opportunities, specific areas where traditional methods, i.e., CFMs, may not be successful.


Proposed Recommendations

§ Establish changes to the California Food and Agricultural Code which would allow registered direct marketing producers to transport for sale and sell California-grown fresh fruits, nuts, and vegetables that they produce, directly to the public, which produce shall be exempt from size, standard pack, container, and labeling requirements, at a certified farmers’ market, field retail stand, or farm stand subject to specified conditions.

§ Recommended that all roadside vendors must be registered by the Direct Marketing Program. Any ag product sold must have a permit with the County Health Department, have a produce handler’s license (under applicable circumstances), and proof of ownership.

§ Establish language which would make the selling of agricultural products on a public right-of-way a citable offense under the Vehicle Code without proper permits and/or authorization.



Leveraging a three-tiered approach, the California Model for CSA’s has been designed to identify and define the existing forms of marketing occurring in California. The CSA subcommittee also reviewed issues impacting the selling of potentially and non-potentially hazardous foods and mechanisms to ameliorate potential food safety issues. One of the central requirements for all CSAs is that the products are sold prior to delivery.

Additional CSA objectives included:

§ Establishing a definition for CSAs and associated marketing models;

§ Establishing guidance with regard to food safety; sanitation; traceability; labeling, and self-certification (approved source), and;


§ Identifying permitting, licensing, and registration structure as well as enforcement mechanisms.


Proposed Recommendations

§ Establish a Single-Farm CSA or CSA category (everything from one farm or a legal cooperative of farms) must be sold prior to delivery.

Commodity or Product Level of Oversight
Uncut fruits and vegetables Exempt from California Code
Uncut fruits and vegetables and value added nonpotentially hazardous goods Regulated by environmental health permit, self certification will satisfy approved source requirements. Best Management Practices are required
Direct Marketing Single Farm or Cooperative/Association handling or producing potentially hazardous foods that meets USDA/CDFA requirements. Exempt from environmental health permit.
Multi-Farm CSA producing or handling potentially hazardous foods Environmental health permit required.


Establish a multi-farm CSA – all products must come from a group of registered direct marketing California farms and must be sold prior to delivery. This is the most common form of CSA in California, where a farm buys some products from other farms. The subcommittee is considering language that would require the operator to identify the direct marketing registrant that they will purchase the products from on an annual basis and potentially specify the maximum number of direct marketing producers associated to each multi-farm CSA registration.


§ Establish a California-Grown Box (must be sold prior to delivery) category, which would allow an operation to sell a box of agricultural products produced by Direct Marketing registrants exempt from Standardization Program requirements. This allows any person to aggregate and market California grown products from registered direct marketing producer

Commodity or Product Level of Oversight
Uncut fruits and vegetables Exempt from California Code
Uncut fruits and vegetables and value added nonpotentially hazardous goods Regulated by environmental health permit, self certification will satisfy approved source requirements. Best Management Practices are required
Direct Marketing Single Farm or Cooperative/Association handling or producing potentially hazardous foods that meets USDA/CDFA requirements. Exempt from environmental health permit.
Multi-Farm CSA producing or handling potentially hazardous foods Environmental health permit required.



The CFM Subcommittee has determined that the current model should be kept in place as the primary structure for certified farmers’ markets. The CFM subcommittee explored options to improve and extend the scope of the Direct Marketing Program. These areas include enhancing county enforcement uniformity, examining regulations that are unnecessary or burdensome to industry, and reviewing potential regulations to streamline certification and enforcement.

Additional CFM objectives included:

 Defining limitations, both internally and externally, which strengthen the integrity of the CFM event;

 Exploring industry driven compliance models;

 Improving both the certified producer certificate and application;

 Eliminating unenforceable and spurious regulations, and;

 Providing tools for a consistent CFM structure through market manager training.


The CFM Subcommittee explored several issues concerning program recalibration, which resulted in the creation of the following recommendations.

Proposed Recommendations

The CFM Subcommittee’s underlying premise was to ensure a wide range of viable direct marketing opportunities for California producers via certified farmers’ market. In addition, the CFM Subcommittee focused on removing the onus that is on the state, counties and farmers’ markets of warranting or certifying that a grower is only selling what they grow themselves, and instead place the responsibility of such representation squarely on the grower selling to the public. Enforcement is to be concentrated on overt false and misleading representations made by the grower, rather than paper documentations and representations. Assessments on the industry are earmarked for investigations of such conduct, and penalties are concentrated and designed to be a deterrent to such conduct.

Building upon the work completed by the Technical Planning Committee, several goals and overarching ideas have been established, including: Establishing a robust, well-run, well-enforced certified farmers’ market system; improving enforcement, establishing enforceable regulations, and providing adequate funding; Providing clear communication throughout the Direct Marketing Program (e.g., public, growers, managers, and enforcement staff); Promoting California grown produce, and; Increasing opportunities for farmers.

If one of the intentions of direct marketing is to promote California agriculture, then there is no room for out-of-state produce at a certified farmers’ market. Statutes and regulations need to clearly reflect that. The presence of any out-of-state produce at CFMs makes enforcement more difficult and confuses consumers, preventing them from easily seeing what is California-grown. Attachment A Direct Marketing Ad Hoc Committee Report PAGE 14

In addition, the public wants reassurance of grower and market integrity. Growers want a fair and level playing field. The public and honest growers deserve protection from abusers of the direct marketing system. Managers and enforcement need their jobs to be doable and effective. Certification is the tool and “badge” for grower legitimacy and consumer confidence. For maximum effectiveness, enforcement and compliance should start at the very beginning of the certification process—with the application.

The third major underlying premise is that the marketing advantages of having standard pack and grading standards have diminished dramatically in recent periods. Exemption from the documentation and process burdens imposed should therefore be expanded to enable the grower to invent and innovate ways to market their production directly to the public, thereby improving their relative economic viability.

The fourth major underlying premise is that public concerns of food safety and traceability of food sources have emerged. Although the food borne illness impact of products from a small farm production sold intrastate might be minor, a system of source identification signage and labeling along with recordkeeping ensuring traceability would seem to be reasonably necessary. The alternative of complying with GAP audits designed for large farms that sell in an aggregated or interstate market system does not.

The final premise is that the state should not be interjected into the private disputes, rulemaking or contractual affairs between growers and market outlets. There is civil code and case law, and a legal system already in place to deal with such matters.

 Add a new section under the Food and Agricultural Code that establishes a prohibition and penalty section for intentional false, deceptive or misleading marketing of Agricultural products similar to that of Section 17500 of the Business and Professions Code. This proposed addition would specifically address misrepresentations concerning geographical area of production, the identity of producers of an agricultural product, and the manner and methods of production of an agricultural product. Active enforcement of the section on all segments of the food marketing, not just direct marketing, is the reason it is placed in the general provisions of the code rather than in a specific portion.


Actions under this section may be initiated by the Secretary or by any agricultural commissioner on behalf of the secretary. Funds generated from penalties would be specifically earmarked for actions under this section, and for contracting with agricultural commissioners for aid in such actions.

In addition or in lieu, punitive action may also be taken against any applicable license, permit, or registration of the accused.

 Make corresponding changes to the California Code of Regulations specifying that all products sold at certified farmers’ markets shall be California grown.

Attachment A Direct Marketing Ad Hoc Committee Report PAGE 15


 Amend the Food and Agricultural Code to establish a consequence for intentional false and misrepresented use of the “California Grown” label.


 Repeal existing Food and Agricultural Code provisions regarding certified producer’s certificates and develop legislation that requires a Direct Marketing Producer registration, documentation and inspection verification system. This would require all producers who wish to sell their agricultural products directly to the public to register and be assigned a permanent number for their farm. Additional cropping and production document information is also required to be filed with the state.


All registration fees are paid to the state, such fees to be used in part for the creating and maintaining of an online registration and producer data filing system, and for production site verification inspections pursuant to any properly submitted complaint or pursuant to information received or detected causing the necessity for such site inspection (the state can contract with counties for help in this regard).

In addition, accurate sales recordkeeping is required. This recordkeeping is to provide a means for food illness outbreak traceability assistance. This coupled with the registration, will serve to satisfy the applicable “approved source” condition of the Health and Safety Code.

 Specify that CDFA shall not mediate disputes between vendors and markets. Language pertaining to the rulemaking of CFM operators must rewritten to clearly define nonprofit or other qualified operators (non-government operators) to be private entities whose rule making powers are abridged only by the condition that they be uniformly applied and in a nondiscriminatory manner.


 Impose a Direct Marketing Program fee assessment on market operators. Such program fee is to be used for the purposes of the chapter, subject to the advice of the Ad Hoc Domestic Direct Marketing committee. Include a separate special Investigation and Enforcement fee assessment on each of the above market operators. The money generated by the imposition of the fees assessed under this section shall be used exclusively to pursue and conduct investigations and enforcement actions upon properly filed complaints of any violation of Section 890 of this California Food and Agricultural Code. This section has a sunset clause.


 Convert the present Certified Farmers’ Market Advisory Committee into an Ad Hoc Domestic Direct Marketing Advisory Committee. Committee existence and composition is discretionary to the Secretary to whom such committee is advisory. Intent is to create a broader advisory committee to the Secretary that is composed of representative agricultural groups and organizations, growers and the public interested in the orderly advancement of the domestic direct marketing of California agricultural product.


 Establish requirements for second certificates, such as visible source labeling.

Attachment A Direct Marketing Ad Hoc Committee Report PAGE 16


 First time Applications. There shall be an onsite inspection of a new applicant’s production sites. Ideally, this inspection will include GPS mapping to include access points and well locations. The office process shall include basic instruction by CAC.


 Renewals: For certified producers in good standing, producers will submit map, crops, etc as specified in the application, noting any sites or crops that are changes from previous year’s certified producer’s certificate. Onsite inspection not required unless there have been substantial changes (major amount of new commodity, new or different production site).


Considerations may include: extending the renewal process to every two years as long as grower submits above paper work annually; a separate certified producer renewal application that is basically the same as certified producer first application, possible additional question about if have incurred any violations, asking for identifying any

changes, and; the term ‘renewal’ at top would help county agricultural commissioner and managers know at a glance where things stand.

 For certified producers who have had any violations: Mandatory annual inspection.


 Improving the CP application and ensuing Certificate will provide substantially more at-a-glance information in the field and at the market for CAC and market managers, including much-needed cross-county information. Asking the grower to provide details at the outset opens education channels, makes boundaries clear, and establishes a seriousness of purpose.


 Develop Market Manger Certification Modules; join inspection training modules for state and county staff; multi-lingual informational brochure that communicates the basic regulations.