Proposed rules regulating the advertising of “local” foods have been published in the Maryland Register for public comment. The regulations were drafted by MDA as part of a law which seeks to bring clarity to consumers as to what constitutes local.
“With the increased interest in buying local and the current lack of agreement on defining local, we feel it is paramount that consumers have the information they need to make informed decisions about their food purchases,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “If advertising a food product as ‘local’, the proposed regulations will require businesses to disclose the origin of their product and consumers can make their own determination if a food advertised as ‘local’ meets their standard.”
The law authorizes the Secretary to regulate the use of the terms “local” or “locally grown” when used to advertise agricultural and seafood products. It aims to support Maryland farmers and provide transparency to consumers interested in purchasing local foods by informing Marylanders about their local foods purchases.
In recent years, interest in locally produced foods has surged, leading to the rapid growth of farmer’s markets, and the appearance of Maryland products in restaurants and grocery stores. However, there has been little agreement as to the definition of “local” foods. A task force of farmers, retail representatives, consumer advocates, and other interested stakeholders provided input for the proposal.
The 2010 Policy Choices Survey by the University of Baltimore Schaefer Center for Public Policy found that 78 percent of Marylanders are more likely to buy produce that is identified as having been grown by a Maryland farmer.
source: Maryland Department of Agriculture