By Tom Driscoll, Director of NFU Foundation and Conservation Policy
No volume restrictions, no need for brick and mortar investments, and the chance to learn about customers want directly. Participating in a farmers market is often the most immediate access to market available to beginning farmers.
But for as quickly and easily as beginning farmers might get involved, farmers markets are not without legal risk. There are common vulnerabilities to liability at farmers markets, and different business structures under which markets may organize can have legal consequences for organizers and participants. This month, the Vermont Law School Center For Agriculture and Food Systems released the Farmers Market Legal Toolkit to help farmers build “resilient and accessible markets.” The guide also has instructions for bringing SNAP/EBT to your market. Beginning farmers who sell at, or are contemplating organizing or joining one, can examine the guide to compare their market to best practices or get things started off correctly.
How is your farmers market organized? How does the market manage risk? Does the guide offer valuable advice to your farmers market? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.