|MAY 9, 2010 --
Connecticut farmers are cheering the passage of a bill during this week's final days of the legislative session that, if signed into law, will allow them to start selling "acidified" products such as pickles and relishes.
Legislation that was formerly nicknamed the "pickle bill" was rolled into the broader Farm, Food and Jobs Bill, which the House of Representatives and Senate both passed unanimously this week.
It awaits action by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
"We and many of our farming members are thrilled with the bill's passage and we await Governor Rell's signature," Steve Reviczky, executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, said in a statement.
The association lobbied for the legislation's passage, saying it would improve the livelihood of farmers and give consumers access to more Connecticut-grown products.
"This bill helps our state's farmers by allowing them to expand the market for their products, helps state consumers by giving them more options to purchase farm-fresh items, and helps create jobs," Reviczky said. "In a tough legislative year, the Farms, Food and Jobs Bill is a truly a bright spot for Connecticut farmers and consumers."
Among the provisions of the bill, it allows farmers to sell items with a certain level of acidity, such as pickles, salsas and tomato sauces.
The idea drew opposition from some, including the state Department of Public Health, which testified against the measure at a March public hearing, citing potential health risks.
Health officials said the bill does not do enough to ensure acidified products sold by farmers are safe. Botulism, a food-borne illness that can paralyze facial muscles and extremities, was a main concern of the health department.
Farmers and other supporters of the legislation, however, said it contains safeguards - including mandating a certain level of acidity - to ensure foods sold to consumers are safe.
Other provisions of the bill would allow poultry farmers to process and sell dressed poultry or poultry products directly to consumers, restaurants and hotels; and expand opportunities for farmers markets in the state, letting them be set up as single-day events or as part of larger events like county fairs.
The Farm, Food and Jobs Bill also would allow the state's Milk Promotion Board to access federal milk promotion funds to educate Connecticut residents about the benefits of milk, as well as fund research.