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 will be 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.

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 http://mifma.org/covid-19-resources/

March 24 Update:

Small Business Resouces:

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 Update

March 23 Update:

Homeland Security Recognizes Agriculture as Critical Industry

Massachusetts:

March 20 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 ca.gov COVID-19 Response page –  https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/

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” – https://www.miamidade.gov/information/library/coronavirus-emergency-order-07-20-businesses.pdf

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.

Oregon: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/ORODA/bulletins/281f94a

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

March 19 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 Businiess Relief Package
    • extend deadlines and waive match requirements for the current Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program Grant RFAs

March 17 Update

March 17 Update:

  • Minnesota has clarified that farmers markets are not included in the Governor’s bar 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 Update

March 16 Update

March 14 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:

“Local Farmers’ Markets Do Their Part to Flatten the Curve on Coronavirus” – Carrboro Farmers Market’s work to make their market accessible and safe.

As coronavirus spreads, farmers fear market closures and lost income” – FERN’s Ag Insider

The Fight to Keep Farmers’ Markets Open During Coronavirus” – Civil Eats


States Allowing Markets to Remain Open:

Compiled Best Practices, Examples, and Resources