RILEY LOOKS TO PROTECT N.J. FARMERS BY DOUBLING PENALTIES FOR FALSE ‘JERSEY FRESH’ LABELING

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Celeste Riley to protect New Jersey farmers and their products by doubling the penalties for falsely labeling “Jersey Fresh” and Department of Agriculture designated brands is advancing in the Assembly.
The bill (A-2665) doubles the penalties for misuse of the outline of the state on packaging of farm products, including “Jersey Fresh,” to $100 for a first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses.
The bill – released 5-0 recently by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural ReDests Committee – also clarifies that each improperly labeled package would constitute a separate violation.
“Jersey Fresh is an instantly recognizable brand name that consumers know means high quality fresh and nutritious products,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “We need to protect this brand identity and the hard work of our farmers, especially amid a difficult economy that makes every dollar for our farmers count more than ever.”
Riley said the bill was suggested to her by farmers in her district, which includes Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem counties.
For a food processor to use the “Jersey Fresh” logo, they must first become licensed to use the Jersey Fresh logo and must use products that are inspected through the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program run by the Department of Agriculture.
“Those products must adhere to specific criteria for grading and quality,” Riley said. “This is a meaningful designation that isn’t taken lightly and must be enforced with harsher penalties for those who violate it.”
For more information about the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program, visit www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/jfqgp.html.