Panel advances Webber bill freeing farmers markets from burdensome regulations for baked goods

Panel advances Webber bill freeing farmers markets from burdensome regulations for baked goods

Jay Webber

TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Agriculture Committee advanced legislation exempting farmers markets from a law requiring certain baked goods to be sold by weight.

“New Jersey’s local farmers markets are healthy, quaint, and good. They are places where neighbors and friends can gather literally to share the fruits of their labors; they are the last place that should bear the brunt of government over-regulation. People who sell pies and cookies at local markets should not get caught up in counterproductive red tape from Trenton. The rules are onerous, unnecessary, and put the farmers markets sellers at a disadvantage, because retail shops and local bakeries do not have to meet the same requirements,” explained Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris), a prime sponsor of the bill.

Currently, baked goods at farmers markets do not have to be sold by weight if they are unwrapped and out in the open. When farmers markets vendors take sanitary precautions to wrap or otherwise sell products like placing pie in a box, cookies in a bag, or cake under cellophane, they are required to include precise weight labelling on the container or face fines for lack of compliance. Retail shops and local bakeries are not required to provide weight labeling when they wrap or cover the same baked goods, so the present regulatory system actually discourages steps that improve sanitation and freshness at farmers markets.

“We should encourage sellers of baked goods in outdoor markets to promote sanitation and freshness, not discourage them,” said Webber. “The current regulations just make no sense.”

Webber’s bill (A503) allows baked goods, including cakes, cookies, pies, and muffins, to be sold at farmers markets in wrapped or covered containers without being weighed.

In January, the Senate Economic Growth Committee unanimously cleared an identical bill (S283).