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State Senator

Norm Needleman

Representing Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Senator Needleman Welcomes New State Law to Help Connecticut Producers of Honey and Maple Syrup

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State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex, back row, center) and John and Bonnie Hall of Maple Breeze Farm in Westbrook (to the left of Governor Lamont) look on as Gov. Lamont signs a new law making it easier for Connecticut farmers to sell the honey and maple syrup that they produce.

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex, back row, center) and John and Bonnie Hall of Maple Breeze Farm in Westbrook (to the left of Governor Lamont) look on as Gov. Lamont signs a new law making it easier for Connecticut farmers to sell the honey and maple syrup that they produce.

HARTFORD – State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) was on hand today for the signing of a new state law that will make it easier and less-expensive for Connecticut farmers to sell the honey and maple syrup that they produce on their own land.

Sen. Needleman joined Connecticut farmers in Governor Ned Lamont’s State Capitol office for the signing of Senate Bill 233, “AN ACT CONCERNING COTTAGE FOOD PRODUCTS AND THE PRODUCTION OF HONEY AND MAPLE SYRUP,” a bill that Sen. Needleman co-sponsored which moves state oversight of those products from the state Department of Consumer Protection to the state Department of Agriculture.

The move means honey and maple syrup farmers in Connecticut will have both fewer regulations – and fewer potentially costly regulations – to adhere to when selling their products.

“This is a great new law for Connecticut farmers. We’re always looking for ways to make easier for farmers to succeed in Connecticut, and these two products are especially well-suited to be under the control of the Agriculture Department instead of the Department of Consumer Protection,” Sen. Needleman said. “I’m excited that the legislature decided to take this issue up this year, and I’m pleased the governor signed the bill into law.”

Senate Bill 233 passed the Environment Committee on a unanimous and bipartisan vote in February, and was then passed by unanimous and bipartisan votes in both the state Senate and the House of Representatives. The new law exempts all Connecticut maple syrup and honey production – including its preparation, packaging, labeling, and sale – from regulation under the state’s Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and cottage food law, which the state Department of Consumer Protection oversees. The new law instead requires maple syrup and honey farmers to be licensed and inspected by the state Department of Agriculture. The new provisions take effect on October 1.

The bill was supported by a variety of Connecticut farmers and farm agency officials, including John and Bonnie Hall of Maple Breeze Farm in Westbrook, which has been continuously operated by the Hall family in Westbrook since 1635. In addition to the hamburger, filet mignon, hot dogs, pork chops, pork shoulder steaks, pork loin roasts, kielbasa, sausage, bacon, and eggs raised at Maple Breeze, they also produce maple syrup from the maple trees on their property, some of which are 300 years old.

“If any other agency were to regulate maple syrup they would probably subject farm producers to building expensive sugar houses, including aspects of commercial kitchens, septic systems, etcetera,” the Halls testified at the February 4 public hearing on the bill. “Maple syrup is a value-added product on our farm, comprising a portion of our farm income. If we had to construct, or transport the sap, to a commercially approved facility, it would be cost prohibitive for our operation. We feel that maple syrup has been produced on farms like ours in Connecticut and New England safely for almost four hundred years and should not be over-regulated.”

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