Farmers Market Resources for Food Vendors
In early May to June, farmers markets crop up with food vendors scrambling to open their booths. If you're a vendor, you might currently be concentrating on preparing your booth and packaging your wares, but don't overlook the necessities of obtaining the proper permits, certifications, and farmers market insurance.
FLIP has put together this short list of resources to help you prepare for the farmers market season.
There are nearly 8,600 farmers markets registered with the USDA. To find a farmers market near you, take a look at the USDA Farmers Market Directory.
Ideally, you've already done some research at the end of last year's season so you know which farmers markets you want to vend at this year. If you haven't, some things you'll want to consider are:
- Attendance & shopper volume
- Competitors selling similar items
- Stall fees
- Management & organization<
To help you analyze a farmers market, the New Farmer’s Guide: Cultivating Success at Farmers Markets by the Davis Farmers Market is an invaluable resource.
Certifications & Documents
Once you have identified a good fit, determine what documents you need prior to applying to become a vendor. These resources may help:
How to Get Certified Organic
To have your products certified organic, market farmers must demonstrate that their farming operations comply with National Organic Programregulations.
First, you must complete an Organic System Plan (OSP). To assist you, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) ATTRA Project and the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service has put together organic market farm documentation forms to help you organize your information to present to inspectors. These forms are not required, but are very helpful to farmers attempting to certify their operations.
Certified Farmers Market Program
To participate in a certified farmers market in California, all vendors must have a Certified Farmers Market Certificate and/or a Certified Producers Certificate from the California Department of Agriculture.
Other states may have regulations and requirements specific to their state. In addition, each state may require certifications if you are selling raw milk, eggs, or meat.
To find out more about your state regulations, check with your local USDA office.
Farmers Market Coalition
The Farmers Market Coalition is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving farmers markets across the nation. This is a rich resource for farmers market vendors that includes a program for free EBT (SNAP) processing equipment.
Farmers Market Insurance
Protect your business with the Food Liability Insurance Program (FLIP). FLIP offers farmers market insurance starting at only $299 per year. With FLIP, you'll receive general and product liability coverage. Apply and purchase online here.
Many farmers markets require vendors to add the event or farmers market manager as an additional insured on their insurance policy. This protects the event or manager from liability due to your negligence. For your convenience, FLIP provides unlimited FREE additional insureds.
Insurance for Other Types of Non-Food Vendors
If you're selling crafts and other non-food handmade goods at farmers markets, you may need general liability insurance from the Artist, Crafters, Tradesmen Insurance (ACT) program.
Or, if you're selling handmade soaps, lotions, or other cosmetics, you can purchase a membership with the Handmade Soap & Cosmetics Guild that offers discounted general liability insurance.
Need More Information on Farmers Market Insurance?
If you need more information about farmers market insurance, or you have questions about what type of insurance you need for various products, contact FLIP today!
All insurance policies have conditions, limitations and exclusions. Please refer to the policy for exact coverages.
By Ashley Baker
Ashley Baker writes about marketing, business, and insurance for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Ashley is a former Licensed Massage Therapist. She has a background in writing for state political offices, newspapers and was the web editor for two regional magazine publications. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family, attending college football games or kayaking. Find Ashley on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.