How Markets Can Help Farmer Vendors: Enforcing Labeling Rules

By: Dan Blaustein Rejto       Posted On: August 12, 2015

To better understand the evolving needs of farmers markets and the farmers who sell at them, American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition teamed up with C2It Marketing to complete a national survey of farmers who sell at farmers markets. This is part of a series of posts on the results of this survey. Read the other posts here.

Direct-marketing farmers were asked, “What could be done to help you and your farmers market be more successful?

Enforcing rules about the use of terms like “Certified Organic”, “organic” and “natural” in marketing, such as on signs.

Several farmers expressed frustration over false advertising and lack of transparency at some markets. Most specifically asked that markets make it more clear which vendors are Certified Organic by USDA and which are not. Respondents suggested:

  • “Require labels for conventional farms.”
  • “Enforce USDA rules about organic labeling. If you are not certified you are not organic.”
  • “As a Certified Organic grower for 20+ years I resent people using the term organically grown when there is no proof. It diminishes the validity of the word and effort involved, cheapens the absolute necessity of 3rd party certifiers and, as I understand, it is illegal to do so.”

To learn more about this issue, please review the USDA’s regulations and exemptions for implying that products at a farmers market were produced using organic methods: Organic Labeling at Farmers Markets

USDA Certified or Not? Clear labeling helps both customers and vendors.

Read more about the survey responses…

About the Survey:

The Direct Market Farmers: National Survey, conducted in March 2015, yielded an impressive response from over 1,500 farmers and ranchers across the United States, benchmarking this survey as one of the largest of its kind completed on record.

US-based farmers and ranchers invited to participate in the survey were selected based on their online presence (e.g. email, website, food/agriculture directory, etc.) and an indication of participation in the following activities:

  • Farmers markets and/or CSAs
  • Selling directly to consumers
  • Local, regional and/or federal agriculture programs
  • Educational studies