A heavy envelope arrived from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture yesterday and I thought, "uh oh, what do they want now?"
When I opened the envelope and began to read, "Please accept this as formal notice that PDA hereby terminates your current FMNP Farmer Agreement, effective March 15, 2012.
Reading on, I found that I would be required to fill out new forms and here's why.
From the Bureau of Food Distribution:
On page 3 under Paragraph No. 5, the definition of "eligible produce" has been revised (at the request of the USDA). Note that the definition allows vegetables that are "grown in neighboring states" to be considered "eligible produce" until January 1, 2013; and that beyond that date produce must be "grown in Pennsylvania: to be considered "eligible produce."
Produce "grown in Pennsylvania." This is a good thing. I have heard of farmers who go to the produce wholesaler in the next state (or south of us) and sell the shipped in produce at Farmer's Markets to their customers on FMNP and SFMP programs as their own. I'm all for buying local and this tightens that definition - though I fear farmers located right on the state border may be negatively impacted.
Don't be afraid to talk to your Farmer's Market farmer and find out exactly where and how their produce was grown - they should know.
I filled out the new forms for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and mailed them - and I'll be able to accept FMNP and SFMP checks this summer (please note that Coudersport Farmer's Market hours have been changed to Friday 3 p.m. - 7 p.m. and some Saturdays. I will be at the Bucktail Farmer's Market in Roulette Mondays from 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
Why I was required to fill out a whole new form (big waste of paper) rather than just receive a notice of the change is beyond me - but so be it.