Americans shop at farmers markets in part because of the unparallelled level of transparency that they offer. If a shopper has a question about any item at the market—where it came from, how it was produced, or how to cook it—they can just ask the farmer who grew it. When this trust is broken, however, both farmers and customers lose.
The federal government, along with many states and commonwealths define “farmers market” in statute or code. These definitions determine eligibility for participation in programs including the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs as well as state-administered farmers market certification programs. In the interest of consumer protection, lawmakers in multiple states have also explicitly prohibited the use of the phrase “farmers market” to describe retail establishments that do not adhere to the tenets of direct-to-consumer agricultural marketing.
While the Farmers Market Coalition does not endorse a specific statutory definition, we encourage lawmakers and state administrators to work with farmers market leaders in their states to craft definitions that reflect the priorities of shoppers, farmers, ranchers, and food artisans in their state.