Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-106

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE SALE OF "CONNECTICUT GROWN" PRODUCTS.

Vote Date:

2/28/2018

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/23/2018

File No.:

7

Disclaimer: The following Joint Favorable Report is prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and does not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose.

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

Sen. Ted Kennedy, 12th Dist.

Rep. Patrick S. Boyd, 50th Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill was a request shared to the Environment Committee by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg). According to DoAg testimony, it is often difficult for schools and school districts who wish to serve Connecticut Grown farm products to identify the farm of origin. This program currently faces the following two challenges (1) it is difficult for farms to connect students to the farm that produce the food; therefore, failing the one objective of the farm-to-school programming, and (2) there is potential for products grown or raised in other states to be comingled with actual Connecticut Grown products. These problems diminish the value to Connecticut's hard-working farm families and to the state's economy. The bill seeks to assist schools by requiring sellers to identify the origin of Connecticut Grown products they sell.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Steven K. Reviczky, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg): Supports the bill. It is often difficult for schools and school districts who wish to serve Connecticut Grown farm products to identify the farm of origin. This program currently faces the following two challenges (1) it is difficult for farms to connect students to the farm that produce the food; therefore, failing the one objective of the farm-to-school programming, and (2) there is potential for products grown or raised in other states to be comingled with actual Connecticut Grown products. These problems diminish the value to Connecticut's hard-working farm families and to the state's economy. The bill seeks to assist schools by requiring sellers to identify the origin of Connecticut Grown products they sell.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Donna Hamzy, Advocacy Manager, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM): The bill requires any person who sells farm product as Connecticut Grown to any district school or educational institution that such farm product was produced in Connecticut. Transparency and integrity in any vendor who provides services and/or products to our schools in this state is paramount.

Susan Pronovost, Executive Director, Brass City Harvest: The intent of the farm to school initiative has two purposes: (1) to infuse locally grown produce into various school and school districts so that students are exposed to nutrient-dense fresh food that can be found at local farms, and (2) to provide pathways to new markets for the state's farmers. Currently, no one is obligated to check the farm source of any produce that is delivered to schools and there is no way for a school district's food service director to verify if Connecticut Grown products are, in fact, Connecticut Grown.

Michael Wrobel, Executive Vice President, Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association: Members of the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association have long been concerned about the competitive nature of the public bid process when confronted with regional wholesale distributors. Although many school districts provide special categories for “Connecticut Grown” produce, no check-and-balance exists to ensure that such products are sourced from Connecticut farms. However, the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association identified this legislation as addressed in the U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety and Modernization Act so that there is transparency in the food distribution process and an ability to trace back to the farm of origin in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Expressed.

Reported by: Steve Smith / Ussawin R. Bumpen

Date: 4/2/2018