Smarter Rules for Farmers Markets

March 11, 2014 at 7:23 pm

A patchwork quilt is what comes to mind when you think about the food safety regulations for farmers’ markets. In one county you have to jump through three hoops and in the next you only have to jump through one. In some counties using coolers with icepacks to keep perishable items at the proper temperature is perfectly acceptable, while in other counties mechanical refrigeration is mandated. Some counties are very permissive while others are very restrictive. And yet, the more stringent and restrictive regulations have not been proven to be necessary for food safety.

The inconsistent patchwork quilt of regulations is an unnecessary barrier, hurting farmers and entrepreneurs by adding cost and confusion; while impacting the sustainability of farmers’ markets and limiting consumer access to local food and farm products.

HB5657/SB3380 the Farmers Market Regulatory Modernization Bill, sponsored by Representative Mike Tryon and Senator David Koehler, would be a major step forward in addressing a number of barriers to the growth and sustainability of farmers’ markets. If it becomes law HB5657/SB3380 would:

  • Create a strict timeline for the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Farmers Market Task Force to develop consistent and uniform statewide administrative rules and regulations for farmers markets.
  • Create a new statewide sampling license for farmers’ markets license to allow farmers and entrepreneurs to easily offer product samples at multiple farmers’ markets under one license.
  • Create new product origin requirements to foster transparency and help consumers identify “re-sellers” at farmers’ markets.
  • Cap registration fees for Cottage Food Operations at $25/year

HB5657/SB3380 is facing some significant opposition and needs your help. Email and call you legislators now to support smarter farmers market rules. Our friends at the Illinois Environmental Council have created an easy to use form where you can easily type in your address, find out who your legislators are, send them an email and call them.

Click Here to Contact your Legislators and Support HB5657/SB3380

Here are a couple tips on what to say when you call and/or what to include in your email.

  • Always include your ask in the email subject line and towards the beginning of your email
  • Tell them you are a constituent, where you live and the farmers’ market(s) you attend
  • Tell them about why farmers’ markets are important to you and why you feel we need to support the growing local food industry with scale and risk appropriate regulations.
  • Talk about your own experiences. Have you had or witnessed issues with the regulations at farmers markets?
  • Keep it short and simple.
  • If you emailed them, follow-up with a phone call

Here is a suggested draft email template you can use:

Subject line: “Co-Sponsor and Vote Yes On HB5657/SB3380″

Content: “I am a constituent and I regularly shop at my local farmers market. Please co-sponsor and vote yes on HB5657/SB3380. Despite the growth and popularity of farmers’ markets, inconsistent and inappropriate regulations have persisted as a barrier to further growth and economic success. Illinois needs smarter streamlined and consistent state-wide regulations for farmers markets. HB5657/SB3380 is a major step forward in creating risk and scale appropriate regulations for farmers’ markets that will improve consumer access to locally produced food, support farmers’ markets as a whole and the farmers and entrepreneurs that call them home. Please support this important effort.”