New York State Now Certifies Locally Grown Products
August 23, 2016
There's one more certification you may see on products from New York State. New York is the first state in the country to launch a new program that will label food grown in the state that also meets standards for food safety and environmental sustainability. The program called New York State Grown & Certified is a “multi-faceted food certification program designed to strengthen consumer confidence in New York products, address food product labeling, and assist New York farmers so they can take advantage of the growing market demand for foods locally grown and produced to a higher standard.”
Governor Cuomo was instrumental in pushing this forward along with the Governor’s Safe and Healthy Foods Advisory Committee in an effort to ensure that NY farm products are as safe as can be. Governor Cuomo also stated, “The New York Grown & Certified Program strengthens the link between producers and consumers and provides new opportunities for agricultural development.” In addition, as part of the program and in response to the Food Hub Task Force Report, the Governor announced a new $20 million food hub in Hunts Point in the Bronx to expand distribution capacity, provide a new market for farmers and create new jobs in the area.
Here are the nuts and bolts of the NY State Grown & Certified program:
What is it?
- New York Grown & Certified is a food certification that recognizes food grown and harvested in NY that also meets high standards of food safety and environmental stewardship, the first of its kind.
- The program is designed to support NY farmers, boost agricultural economy and increase transparency for consumers.
- Once certified, New York State Grown & Certified partners and retailers can use the official seal on their products and other marketing resources.
- The state has also committed to putting forth significant marketing efforts for the program aimed at restaurants, institutional buyers and consumers.
Why launch this new certification with all of the other labels out there?
- Based on market research, the state declares that a “NYS Grown & Certified” label builds on existing positive perception that residents have of NYS produce. Consumers stated they would buy more, pay more, and favor food bearing this label over food that did not.
- The idea is that the food label will provide consumers with an assurance of quality in “how and where the food is grown and produced” beyond existing labels such as “organic” which is not always black and white.
- The state is hopeful that an important added benefit of the certification is to increase sales for qualifying producers due to an increased demand for their products as a result of the new label.
Who is eligible?
- The certification is currently available to farmers who are already part of an independent audit program such as USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and have also completed Tier 2 or higher of Agriculture Environmental Management (AEM). AEM is a voluntary, incentive-based program that helps farmers protect important natural resources.
- If a farmer is not currently certified for GAP or a part of AEM, the NY State Grown & Certified website provides information on how a farmer can become eligible.
- The initial roll-out is only inclusive of fruit and vegetable growers however the certification will expand to other commodities in the coming months.
- The certification is free, outside of any costs associated with participating in the audit programs mentioned above (which typically include an administrative fee and additional costs for time spent conducting an audit)
- More than 100 qualifying vegetable and fruit farms from across New York State already expressed interest before New York State Grown & Certified officially launched on August 11th.
- The Department of Agriculture and Markets has pledged to working with New York State producers across all commodities to assist them in qualifying for the program.
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