‘Ag Department to Farmers: Stop Cutting the Cheese’

June 30, 2011
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I—Pulaski) said today he is irked and disappointed to hear that the New York State Agriculture Department has decided to regulate how farmers slice their cheese at farmers’ markets. A rule that says food has to be pre-wrapped before its sale is being enforced for cheese producers at farmers’ markets, according to recent media reports. The other option for cheese farmers is to obtain a license to process foods, similar to ones obtained by delis. This would require sinks and hot water, which is not possible at farmers’ markets.

“This news is irksome. Cheese producers and farmers have enough to contend with from the state. This rule makes little sense. Wouldn’t consumers prefer cheese be cut upon its sale, rather than pre-wrapped in plastic, refrigerated and then sold at a date to be determined? That is what grocery stores are for. Cheese and fresh produce at the markets must be sold that day, in many cases. Cutting, pre-wrapping, refrigerating and storing for later can take away from the freshness and quality of the cheese as well,” said Barclay.

“This regulation adds to the farmers’ load. This is just one more example of bureaucratic nonsense that bothers farmers and businesses and prevents them from doing what they set out to do, which is make a living,” said Barclay. “We’d like to know if there is a legitimate reason that the state has decided to enforce this rule at farmers’ markets. Who knows? There may be a good reason for this, but we’re still waiting to hear back from State Ag and Markets, and their logic behind this,” said Barclay.