The Vista Farmers Market
Perspective on Direct Marketing RegulationsAt the Vista Farmers Market we support the certification of farmers by the County Agriculture department – – this is one key part of verifying that farmers are actually growing what they sell.
We wish that the certification program would expand to cover all California crops. As a service, certification is increasingly useful in verifying farmers. As it is, the certification only covers certain farmers. If you grow flowers, plants, fruits, vegetables (including mushrooms), eggs, nuts, or honey you can get a certificate.
However if you raise animals, grains, sell meat, make wool, milk, cheese, jam, pies, wreaths, earthworm products, candles, zuchini bread, juice, seeds, and much more . . . you cannot get a certificate. So markets are left to find their own proof that farmers of these products are actually selling what they raise. This is an unfortunate weakness of the state program.Most everyone has forgotten that Certified Farmers Markets were created to make it possible for farmers to sell what they grow directly to customers. Before the creation of the Direct Marketing regulations it was simply impossible. Impossible due to the accumulation of regulations over the years. Regulations that made it illegal for farmers to sell direct.
Now, over many years, it seems that most everyone thinks that Certified Farmers Markets are the ONLY places where farmers can sell . . . the regulations, fines, fees, and requirements for farmers are the most burdensome of any place a farmer may sell.
However, farmers operate in the larger world, outside and inside CFMs. Why then has a state program designed to help farmers become the most expensive, most difficult, least friendly place for farmers to sell?Our goal at the Vista Farmers Market remains one of trying to make the market a viable, affordable, easy, friendly way for farmers (and makers) to sell what you grow (or make) directly to customers. We will continue to creatively respond to the increasingly-difficult regulation changes by utilizing ALL available resources, both inside and outside a Certified Farmers Market – – to create an honest, useful, thoughtful, efficient farmers market. We must often do this in an unclear and ever-changing environment, but we are being regulated and are open for business, so we must find, or make, a way.A recent legislative change of the regulations now allows farmers to sell with the same benefits whether they are in or out of the Certified Farmers Market. This may serve to weaken Certified Farmers Markets, but perhaps strengthen the farmers. So be it. This change in state regulation will create a change in the operation of the Vista Farmers Market as we continue working toward our goal of creating an honest, useful, thoughtful, and viable farmers market.—————————We remain in agreement with the State of California’s intent, stated in the Direct Marketing Regulations, including:The direct marketing potential of awide variety of California-produced agricultural products should be maximized and encouraged.
> The department should maintain a direct marketing program and encourage the sale and purchase of California-grown fresh produce and other California-produced agricultural products.
> It is the intent of the state to promote the purchase and consumption of California-grown produce and to promote access to California-produced agricultural products.
> A regulatory scheme should be developed that provides the flexibility that will make direct marketing a viable marketing system.[Notice that it talks about direct marketing but does not limit its goals to Certified Farmers Markets] And we rely on the state and county to (as the State of California states):
assist producers in . . . other forms of direct marketing by providing technical advice on marketing methods and in complying with the regulations that affect direct marketing programs.Many markets it seems don’t really care whether they have farmers selling local farm products or someone selling something else, as long as the customers keep coming and spending money. We care.
Copyright Vista Farmers Market 2019
The Vista Times