February 13, 2004, the Direct Marketing Subcommittee met to discuss
its charge to develop recommendations that would return the Direct
Marketing Program back to its original intent. The subcommittee
felt that the original intent of direct marketing was to provide
a venue for fanners to sell fresh produce to consumers without having
to comply with standard container, size, and labeling requirements.
Additionally, the program was intended to be simple and straight
forward, enforceable, somewhat self-regulating, and workable within
the limited resources of county and state budgets.
However, direct marketing
has changed significantly and grown tremendously since its beginnings.
As the Program grew, possibly beyond what was forecasted, many unforeseen
challenges and issues developed that necessitated greater program
complexity, changes in regulations, and a growing enforcement workload.
Along with this growth has been a corresponding growth in the program's
demand on state and county resources.
Therefore, the challenge
of the subcommittee was to develop proposals to return a growing
and evolving Direct Marketing Program back to its original intent
while maintaining effective enforcement. To do this, the subcommittee
focused on proposals to adequately fund the Direct Marketing Program
and on possible changes in enforcement procedures that would reduce
workload while maintaining effectiveness.
On April 26, 2004, by conference
call, the subcommittee met an additional time with members of the
Certified Farmers' Market Advisory Committee to discuss and refine
the proposals developed at the February meeting.
Charge a stall fee that
will adequately fund both the state and county Direct Marketing
Programs : The subcommittee identified lack of adequate funding
as the number one issue for County Direct Marketing Programs. The
stall fee is presently the funding mechanism for the State Program.
The stall fee is a fair way to fund the Program since producers
who benefit from direct marketing pay for the Program and producers
who use direct marketing more pay more. Additionally, this is a
more equitable way to fund the Program since all producers in all
counties will help support the Program through a uniform fee structure.
An alternative to the stall fee was suggested where the market would
be charged a fee based on the number of stalls. The present county
fee structure with possible minor exceptions would be discontinued.
CDFA would collect the stall/market fee and then use the fees to
fund county programs through contract. Counties would be fully reimbursed
for their direct marketing activities. The level of funding would
determine the level of county direct marketing enforcement.