A legislator from south Jersey has introduced a bill to make it a crime to say produce is grown in the Garden State if it isn’t.
According to NewJerseyNewsroom.com, a new Web site created by several former Star Ledger staffers, the bill from Assemblyman John Burzichelli has passed the Assembly, 77-0, and is now in the hands of the Senate Economic Growth Committee.
The bill is a good idea, and if anything, could be a bit stronger. As it now stands, people found to have fraudulently tagged products as “Jersey Fresh,” “Jersey Grown” or”Jersey Seafood,” face a fine of only $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.
Upper Meadows Farm has been Jersey Fresh certified since 1994. There is a bit of a learning curve since the Jersey Fresh program is a quality grading program. You need to learn what produce is suitable and how to grade fruits, vegetables, honey, eggs, and an expanding list of farmed and fished products to be able to participate in the program. Jersey Fresh was the first such program nationwide and continues to be an example across the U.S. to other states. Giving the enforcement side of Jersey Fresh more teeth will help protect against pretenders who use local and fresh merely as catchwords to make a sale.