I have recently started selling my veggies at a local market and today received a ‘friendly warning’ that every single one of my products required a ‘Product of Ontario’ label. I was told if I did not do this I risked a $300 fine and that OMAFRA was carrying out a blitz on this over the next few weeks.
Can anyone give me some insight into where this rule comes from? Is the person correct?
How do you all meet this requirement?? I would love to hear any innovative suggestions on how you do this without buying branded containers, etc.
Personally I have deliberately stayed away from ‘Product of Ontario’ labeling. I always assumed that this label meant that sellers had bought those products from other farmers. Plus Ontario is a big place and I want to convey that all our food is grown by us within the same community as the market.
Yes this is the law in Ontario, you also have to have your full farm address displayed as well as other things. Provincial inspectors do visit many markets each season and give tickets. This is separate from the municipal public health inspectors who inspect meat eggs and prepared foods. More can be found here i think. Also look at Farmers Markets Ontario website.
Here’s OMAFRA’s produce labelling regulation page: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/food/inspection/fruitveg/produce-labelling.htm
It does look like there’s an exception for bulk displays where customers collect their own produce. But that may leave a gap for quarted/bagged veggies. Not sure.
not an issue for me but thanks for the heads up about tax eating bureaucracies. I tell people we only sell what we grow. WE DO NOT buy from other farms or the food terminal…and that is the real problem…there are just too many market gardeners and farm markets that resell from the food terminal…SHUT THEM DOWN and be done with their corruption.
I agree, Ben. Adding a labeling burden to small farmers does not solve the problem of fake “local” produce - it only serves to add to the bureaucracy. A better solution would be for the farmers market to do its own diligence in verifying that its sellers are local growers and for compliance to be self-managed by the local community. What would be a better deterrent anyway? The annoyance of a $300 ticket or the shame of your local farmers knowing you’re a fraud? - Sabile Trimm
Yup, fees for "farmers markets " in towns can be almost $1000 to $2000 a year…total rubbish considering that many vendors will buy from the food terminal and then resell at the farmers markets, and then add bureaucracy with costs to the CONSUMER. In whose interests are these farmers markets actually operating??? answer…definitely not in the public interest…SHUT THEM DOWN !!! FARMERS MARKETS ARE FARMERS MARKETS meaning that the farm is local to the town ONLY…NOT some town in California or Mexico., !!!
The rule feels absurd to me as well. I believe its in place for grocery-store level selling, so that larger chains label things not coming from canada, but for some inane reason it trickles down to farmers markets needing same governance.
To comply, i printed a post card which is mostly blank, except for our logo and a small line of text at the bottom (‘grown with love in paris, ontario’) and i use these to label and price everything ate the market stand, filling them in with sharpie as-needed. Vista-print can have some pretty reasonable deals on every now and then to make it fairly inexpensive to pick up a bunch of these.
I can send you a template for what i’ve done if you’d like.
It is indeed a ridiculous rule for bona fide local farmers selling at a farmers’ market. I ran a farmers’ market for 3 years near London, ON where we only allowed “local” products and did our own policing. I agree with @eric_jelinski that the onus should be on the farmers’ market to verify what their vendors are selling, though I’m guessing that most market managers don’t want that kind of liability (as they are the ones that would be ticketed instead of the vendors).
I also share @eric_jelinski ‘s dislike of food terminal resellers selling at a farmers’ market, they are the ones that should be clearly labeling their stuff as resold versus everyone else labeling their stuff as being “from Ontario”.
Thanks for all the replies, this is really helpful info. I guess I’ve got some bedtime reading!
@ryanshantz, thank you for the suggestion. This seems the simplest way to approach this.
The market I attend visits all of their vendors to verify what they are producing and has little signs showing each vendors proximity to the market. Both of these things seem to help this problem a lot more than little Ontario stickers!
I made up a sign printed on paper and then laminated and hung on the door and on the wagon that we sell from. “We only sell what we grow. We do not sell anything grown by others” Marric Gardens, Ontario
At our Farmers Markets’ we use labeling printed for vendors to meet the OMAFRA requirements. This label includes “Product of Ontario” where the crop was grown “Grown in”, the price in metric units “$ per unit”. It also has the Foodland Ontario logo embossed on it and finally that the product is endorsed by our Market Logo. Hope this helps.