Farmers Markets Respond to COVID-19 — Daily Updates and Announcements

      Posted On: March 9, 2020

 This post was originally published on March 9, 2020 and is updated as new information becomes available. 

As concerns about the spread of COVID-19 grow, farmers market operators are wondering how best to respond. Markets are grappling with their role as public gatherings that are vital to food access for consumers and the livelihoods of farmers. Farmers Market Coalition will be regularly updating this page with news announcements and updates as the situation continues to unfold. Visit our compiled Best Practices, Examples, and Resources page for tips for your market operations.


Daily Updates:


Week of May 31st

FNS: Farmers’ Markets can operate from alternate locations

From: Hambrick, Mark (Marcus) – FNS <>

As a result of the COVID national emergency, from now until October 31, 2020, Farmers’ Markets can operate from alternate locations; this option helps Markets enable their adherence to local guidance regarding capacity.

A Farmers’ Market can operate from an alternate location after leaving a voice mail for FNS at 312-353-6609 and providing the Market’s:

  • name as authorized by FNS,
  • FNS number,
  • current operating location,
  • new, alternate location, and
  • contact phone number


FNS will note the interim change and will only contact the Market, if necessary. This option remains in effect through October 31, 2020. In October 2020, FNS will revisit the continued impacts of the COVID national emergency.

Week of May 17th

Week of May 17th

USDA to Provide $1 Billion in Loan Guarantees for Rural Businesses and Ag Producers

USDA is developing application guides for lenders and borrowers on the B&I CARES Act Program. The Agency also will host *two webinars* to provide an overview of program requirements.



Protocols for Opening Delaware Farmers’ Market (Under COVID‐19) – May 2020 – Created by the Delaware Farmers’ Market Coalition and the Delaware Department of Agriculture


USDA Announces Details of Direct Assistance to Farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Beginning May 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses. Additional information and application forms can be found at Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA office. Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020.

Week of May 10th

Week of May 10th


FMNP Memo: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) Waiver Authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Questions and Answers on Program Flexibilities

SFMNP Memo/Q&A: Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) Administrative Flexibilities during a Pandemic and accompanying Questions and Answers



Governor Northam’s Executive Order Number 61:

“Effective 12:00 a.m., Friday, May 15, 2020, farmers markets may reopen (for on-site-shopping), provided such businesses comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidelines for farmers markets incorporated by reference herein.”

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS): Phase 1 Guidance for Virginia Farmers Markets


USDA Approves Wyoming and Wisconsin to Accept SNAP Benefits Online

SNAP online purchasing is currently operational in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. USDA previously announced the District of ColumbiaWest VirginiaMissouri, Texas, VermontMinnesotaNevadaColoradoNew MexicoRhode Island, and Wisconsin would also be implementing online purchasing in the near future.

Week of May 3rd

Week of May 3rd


USDA Approves Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Rhode Island to Accept SNAP Benefits Online

Secretary Perdue Statement on Economic Injury Disaster Loans Being Available to U.S. Agricultural Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 4, 2020 – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary announced that agricultural producers, for the first time, are now eligible for the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs.

For more information, please visit:



Secretary of Agriculture: Farmers Market Season is Here, Markets Prepared to Safely Serve Pennsylvanians Amid COVID-19

May 1, 2020 Update

April 29, 2020 Update

April 29 Update


Governor Kim Reynolds issues Public Health Proclamation allowing re-opening of farmers markets. In a proclamation that continues the state public health emergency declaration, farmers’ markets are not included as mass gatherings. However, the proclamation states that only vendors that sell food or farm products will be allowed, and vendor booths will have to be at least six feet apart.

April 27, 2020 Update

April 27 Update



We are excited to announce that farmers markets will be able to re-open on May 1, following guidance from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, the Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development:

  • Farmers markets may open using limited in-person operations to ensure consumer access to quality, healthy food if:
    • They adhere to all municipal ordinances and rules and their local municipality agrees to allow opening.
    • Markets must significantly alter their business practices to eliminate crowds and reduce contact between vendors and customers including a temporary transition away from shopping and social events to primarily a food distribution using the methods prescribed in section 1.2 above.
    • Markets are directed to use a “pre-order, local food pick-up” model and to follow any additional guidance by the Agency of Agriculture and Food Markets.


Vermont Added to SNAP Online Pilot Program

The SNAP online pilot is currently operational in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. USDA previously announced Arizona, CaliforniaFlorida, IdahoNorth Carolina, the District of ColumbiaWest Virginia, and Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas would also be joining. With these 16 states, more than half of all households receiving SNAP will have access to online purchasing.

April 24, 2020 Update

April 24 Update

Colorado Farmers’ Markets Are Ready to Serve

Contact:  Wendy White, 303-869-9174,

There are more than 100 farmers’ markets across Colorado, with many opening in May and most operational by June. A list of markets across the state, along with a map of locations is available at

According to the Colorado Farmers Market Association (CFMA), visitors should check market websites and social media pages to find any changes in operations. Customers can expect many markets to continue operating, with new guidelines in place for social distancing. Some markets are implementing online ordering platforms to allow for ordering ahead and curbside pickup.

April 23, 2020 Update

April 23 Update

Funding Opportunity – Innovation Fund Mini-Grants for Rapid Response to COVID-19 Crisis

The Nutrition Incentive Hub is pleased to make available 25 to 50 mini-grants of up to $10,000 each for current or past USDA GusNIP and FINI grantees (and their partners) to innovate, build capacity, and address specific programmatic and operational challenges to their SNAP incentive and produce prescription (PPR) programs posed by the COVID-19 crisis. These grants are administered by Fair Food Network in partnership with Farmers Market Coalition, Ecology Center, Michigan Farmers Market Association, and National Grocers Association Foundation.

We recognize the many constraints on GusNIP and FINI grantees (and their partners) during this time and have developed what we hope is a short application with quick turnaround and light reporting requirements. We invite interested entities to apply by May 5, 2020 using this application form.

Questions? Please email or join us for one of our upcoming Virtual Coffee House Chats at 10 am PT/1 pm ET on Thursday, April 23 and Thursday, April 30.

April 22, 2020 Update

April 22 update

USDA Increases Monthly SNAP Benefits by 40%

“…emergency benefit increases have reached $2.0 billion per month for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households across all 50 states and 3 territories to increase food security during the coronavirus national emergency. These emergency benefits represent a 40% increase in overall monthly SNAP benefits…”

SNAP COVID-19 Emergency Allotments Guidance

New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association Announces Local Food Supply Chain Response Fund

The New Mexico COVID-19 Local Food Supply Chain Response Fund (The Fund) has been designed to provide funding to address gaps in and disruptions to the local food supply chain in New Mexico and is housed at the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association.

There are two types of project funding available through The Fund:

  • Individual Producer Grants: Only New Mexico-based individual farmers and ranchers or farm and ranch operations are eligible to apply. Funding for these grants can range from $500 – $2500.
  • Collaborative Grants: Nonprofits and federally-recognized tribes operating in New Mexico are eligible to apply. Funding for these grants can range from $2,500 – $15,000 and can be for up to 6 months, with the possibility of extension depending on the ever-evolving situation. Funds will be provided as unrestricted operating funds.

April 21, 2020 Update

April 21 update

Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas Added to SNAP Online Pilot Program

USDA previously announced Arizona, CaliforniaFlorida, IdahoNorth Carolina, the District of Columbia, and West Virginia would also be joining. With these 16 states, more than half of all households receiving SNAP will have access to online purchasing.

April 20, 2020 Update

April 20 update

Perdue Announces $19 Billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

  • $16 billion in direct payments for farmers and ranchers, funded using the $9.5 billion emergency program in the CARES Act and $6.5 billion in Credit Commodity Corporation (CCC) funding.
  • $3 billion in purchases of agriculture products, including meat, dairy and produce to support producers and provide food to those in need. USDA will work with local food and regional distributors to deliver food to food banks, as well as community and faith-based organizations to provide food to those in need.

April 17, 2020 Update

April 17 update

DC and North Carolina Added to SNAP Online Pilot Program

The SNAP online pilot is currently operational in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. Nebraska joined the pilot on April 1, 2020. The authorized retailers working with all pilot states are Amazon and Walmart, while Wrights Market and ShopRite are working with Alabama and New York respectively. On April 8, it was announced that Arizona and California would be joining, and on April 11 announced Florida and Idaho.

April 16, 2020 Update

April 16 update



13 APRIL 2020

The Office of the Lt. Governor has received a lot of contact from farmers and those who rely on local food who are concerned that farmers markets are not permitted to operate under current guidance. Today, Lt. Governor Zuckerman sent a letter to Anson Tebbetts, Secretary of Agriculture, asking for guidance that allows farmers markets to operate with proper protective protocols.

April 15, 2020 Update

“The CARES Act specifically includes ‘producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools’ among those eligible for the assistance,” the Senators wrote. “We write today to emphasize the high level of damages being experienced by local food producers and to provide comments on fair allocation of the CARES payments.”

In addition to urging USDA to ensure relief is getting to local farmers, the Senators also pressed the department to administer direct payments through the Farm Service Agency in response to the local food industry’s projected $1.1 billion loss in revenue. They asked that in order to be eligible to receive a direct payment, local food producers should derive at least 25 percent of total farm income from sales that are locally purchased, including food sold directly to consumers.

April 14, 2020 Update

April 14 update

SBA programs available through the CARES Act

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Borrower Application Form
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) and Emergency EIDL Advance Application

A detailed breakdown of these programs is forthcoming.


MIFMA has issued revised guidelines for Farmers Markets based on Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-42 which extends stay-at-home orders through April 30, 2020 and “further clarifies which businesses and operations provide critical infrastructure and may remain in operation during this time, including which food and agriculture related functions are deemed critical. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development clarified on March 24, 2020 that workers in Michigan’s food and agriculture sector who support ‘retail that sells food and beverage products’ constitute ‘critical infrastructure workers.’”


Governor Ducey deems farmers markets an essential service per Executive Order 2020-12.

April 13, 2020 Update

April 13 update

Florida and Idaho Added to SNAP Online Pilot Program

The SNAP online pilot is currently operational in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. Nebraska joined the pilot on April 1, 2020. California and Arizona were announced on April 8, 2020.

April 10, 2020 Update

April 10 update

Arizona and California Added to SNAP Online Pilot Program

The SNAP online pilot is currently operational in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. Nebraska joined the pilot on April 1, 2020. Maryland and New Jersey remain non‐operational pilot states.

April 9, 2020 Update

April 9 update

CDC COVID-19 Updates


District of Columbia

Mayor Bowser Issues Order Establishing Social Distancing Protocols for Food Sellers and Requirements for Farmers’ Markets to Operate During Public Health Emergency

“Wednesday, April 8, 2020
(Washington, DC) – Today, to protect the District’s food supply chain and the District’s frontline food workers during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued Mayor’s Order 2020-058.

The Order states that no farmers’ market may operate unless issued a waiver. To obtain a waiver, a market manager must submit a plan to the District government at to outline how they will operate and enforce social distancing protocols, and that plan must be approved.”

Mayor’s Order 2020-058

April 7, 2020 Update

April 6, 2020 Update

April 6 update

Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services: Guidance for Farmers Markets

“All Farmers Markets in the City of Los Angeles must have an approved COVID-19 operational plan approved by the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA), under public health orders from LA County, LA City and Mayor Garcetti’s March 30, 2020 directive.”

April 2, 2020 Update

April 2 update

Press Release: Ohio Food and Farm Organizations Call on Leaders to Help Farmers, Farmers Markets, and Low Income Food Access.

“Four organizations, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)Produce Perks Midwest (PPM), the Ohio Farmers Market Network (OFMN), and the Ohio Food Policy Network (OFPN) are calling on Ohio’s leaders to implement six important policies that will help small and mid-size farmers, farmers markets, and families who rely on nutrition assistance to access affordable, healthy food.”

March 29, 2020 Update

March 29 update:

State by state list of SNAP waivers:

Fair Food Network COVID response:

FNS Actions to Respond to COVID19:

March 27, 2020 Update

March 27 update:


“…farmers markets are not permitted under the terms of the executive order that became effective on March 25th at 5:00 p.m.  Please understand that the State is acutely aware that farmers markets are vital to communities throughout Vermont and incredibly important to farmers.  We wish they could remain open during this public health crisis, but the risk of community infection at our popular farmers markets is too high.”

“While farmers markets are temporarily closed during this emergency, farmers can and should continue selling food to consumers.  Farms are critically important and agriculture continues.  Indeed, farmers’ contributions are even more obviously necessary in this time of need.  Telephone or online food sales, curbside pickup, and delivery are all welcome.  Indeed, CSAs are listed as a critical service.  The goal is to continue supplying locally-grown food while preventing person-to-person contact and community gatherings that may facilitate the virus’s rapid spread.”  

Alissa Matthews

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Ag Market Development Specialist

March 26, 2020 Update

March 26 update:

MIFMA has released several resources to address questions and provide guidance to its markets during this heightened response period.

  • Guidelines and recommendations for Michigan Farmers Markets to modify their operations
  • Tips for sanitizing SNAP tokens
  • Signage that can be posted in farmers markets to reinforce CDC recommended behaviors in public settings
  • Information on documenting essential workers during transit to and from the farmers market
  • Links to additional relevant information

Please visit

March 24, 2020 Update

March 24 Update:

Small Business Resources:

State Announcements:

“The essential businesses and operations specifically listed grocery stores, pharmacies, certified farmer’s markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of groceries.”

  • Alabama, From Clayton Revere, Attorney, Alabama Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP)

“Sir, the attached information was issued by the Governor’s office in conjunction with the Stay at Home order. If you review the attachment titled “Essential Infrastructure fact sheet,” you will see that businesses involved in food production, distribution, and sale fall under the category of “Essential Infrastructure.” As such, those businesses will be allowed to operate so long as they comply with the requirements involving sanitation and social distancing.”

March 23, 2020 Update

March 23 Update:

Homeland Security Recognizes Agriculture as Critical Industry

  • Louisiana, from Clayton Revere, Attorney, Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP)

“Sir, the attached information was issued by the Governor’s office in conjunction with the Stay at Home order. If you review the attachment titled “Essential Infrastructure fact sheet,” you will see that businesses involved in food production, distribution, and sale fall under the category of “Essential Infrastructure.” As such, those businesses will be allowed to operate so long as they comply with the requirements involving sanitation and social distancing.”

Essential Infrastructure_fact sheet


  • Governor Charlie Baker’s list of essential services includes “Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail, including farmers markets and farm stands, that sells food and beverage products, including liquor stores”
  • Further, the order banning gatherings of more than 10 people “does not apply to normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, ferries, polling locations, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food pantries, banks and pharmacies.”
  • DPH Assemblage Guidance and COVID-19 Essential Services List
  • Massachusetts State of Emergency

Oregon Public Broadcasting interview on Oregon farmers markets staying open

March 20, 2020 Update

March 20 Update:

The California State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health have identified farmers markets as an essential service on their COVID-19 Response page –

Columbia, MO exempted Columbia Farmers Market from the 50+ person gathering ban.

Georgia’s Relief Fund for Farmers

Kentucky: Kentucky Farmers Markets have just been exempted from closure of  all “public facing businesses that encourage congregation” by the Kentucky Department of Public Health. The Ag Commissioner just released a letter of support for Farmers Markets to remain open and the KDA farmers market program has posted suggestions for safe operation of farmers markets.

Miami Dade County identified farmers markets as an “essential retail and commercial business” –

North Carolina: In NC, Farmers Markets fall under the same classification as grocery stores and are considered an important source of food for local communities. Farmers Markets who choose to operate during the COVID-19 outbreak are required to follow the same federal or state-mandated directives as grocery stores on issues such as social distancing or crowd size (if indoor).   In addition, restaurants located at farmers markets are also subject to Executive Order No. 118.  Additional guidance regarding executive order 118 and the Secretary’s abatement order will be issued shortly.


TX: Travis County Commissioners (Austin, Texas) exempted farmers’ markets from required closures.

March 19, 2020 Update

March 19 Update:

  • Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Connecticut have all issued clarification that farmers markets are essential services
  • The as noted in an article today on Civil Eats, we at the Farmers Market Coalition continues to push for clarification at the federal level that farmers markets are essential services. We are also calling on the federal government to:
    • include direct market farmers and farmers market operators in the COVID19 Small Business Relief Package
    • extend deadlines and waive match requirements for the current Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program Grant RFAs

March 17, 2020 Update

March 17 Update:

  • Minnesota has clarified that farmers markets are not included in the Governor’s ban and restaurant closure. From the Minnesota Farmers Market Association:
    “Please note that this closure does not include Minnesota Farmers’ Markets. Communication from Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture, Thom Petersen, has confirmed from Governor attorneys that farmers’ markets are exempt from this executive order, provided they do not offer onsite consumption.”

March 16, 2020 Update

March 16 Update

March 14, 2020 Update

March 14 Update:

As efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 expand, farmers markets are receiving inconsistent guidance from state and local health departments. In a number of states, officials have issued guidance that farmers markets are not included on bans of public gatherings, while in others, farmers markets have had their permits pulled by local health officials. Here at the Farmers Market Coalition it is our position that farmers markets are necessary for for livelihood of tens of thousands of farmers and for food access for millions of consumers. Farmers markets should be addressed in the same manner as grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential public services as decisions are made regarding containment protocols. We applaud the states who have issued clear guidance to farmers market operators, such as the below statement from the Maryland Department of Agriculture:

In light of Governor Larry Hogan’s recent actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Maryland Department of Agriculture is directing farmers markets to make their own decisions on whether to remain open or suspend activity on a case-by-case basis. MDA understands that farmers markets are an important source of nutrition for many Marylanders, including those located in food deserts and individuals relying on SNAP benefits. If your market is planning to remain open, we urge you to provide ample access to hand sanitizer/hand washing stations and have a plan in place to promote social distancing among patrons and vendors.  

In states where such statements have not been issued, we urge markets to seek such clarification from elected officials. For example, in California where many farmers markets have had their permits revoked, the California Alliance of Farmers markets is seeking signatures on a letter urging the State to equate farmers markets with grocery stores and other necessary outlets.

To support our member markets we have added to our talking points and example statements below in order to assist markets as they make the case to the public and health department officials.

News Articles + Blog Posts:

May 2020

April 2020

“How We Did This: Bow Market’s On-the-Fly Innovation During Covid-19” – edibleBOSTON

“Farmers markets thrive during California stay-at-home order” – KCRA

“Farmers markets may be your safest bet for food shopping during the coronavirus pandemic” – WHYY

“Washington farmers markets are reopening, but won’t look the same” – Crosscut

“Asheville farmers market follows strict guidelines, honor system amid COVID-19 outbreak” – WLOS

“Packed grocery stores? Md. farmer’s markets, vendors say there’s a safer option” – Baltimore Business Journal

“Coronavirus Impact: Bay Area farmers pre-pack produce for easy, safe shopping during pandemic” – ABC7 News

“Fund Our Farmers So They Continue to Feed Us” – NRDC

“The Local Food Revolution Goes Online—for Now” – Civil Eats

“ON-FARM COVID-19 FOOD SAFETY INFO & FAQS” – Community Alliance with Family Farmers

“Farmers markets are vital during COVID-19, but they need more support” – Brookings Institution

“Why Outdoor Farmers’ Markets Matter More Than Ever” – The New York Times

“Farmers markets changing structure, seeing record sales during pandemic” – Capital Press

“Farm to Quarantine? What coronavirus means for Seattle Farmers Markets” – The Daily

“COVID-19 creates new challenges for local growers and farmers markets” – Berkeleyside NOSH


March 2020


States Allowing Markets to Remain Open:



  *state may require markets to be “certified”

No statewide stay-at-home orders

No statewide stay-at-home orders

  • Arkansas
  • Iowa
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Utah
  • Wyoming


Compiled Best Practices, Examples, and Resources