Farmers Markets | Access, Expansion, State Legislation

3/26/2015

farmers marketIn recent years, farmers’ markets have become an increasingly realistic source of fresh local food for communities, with 7,864 markets nationwide in 2012 compared to 1,755 in 1994. In the past five years, 26 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to increase access to healthy food through farmers’ markets. Many municipalities also are also providing support for consumers to access healthy foods through farmers’ markets.

Increasing Access to Farmers'  Markets

State legislatures have placed particular focus on increasing the number of markets in low-income and isolated areas, particularly for recipients of public assistance. These outlets, however,  are often out-of-reach for citizen’s receiving government assistance, especially for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly known as food stamps) recipients.  Farmers’ markets often are not able to accept SNAP electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards—the debit-card like used to make SNAP purchases, denying these markets access to the $78 billion in SNAP assistance received in 2011. At one market in Pennsylvania, sales to SNAP card holders increased anywhere from 74 percent to over 200 percent after providing each vendor with an EBT card terminal.
 
In recent years, California, D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Vermont and Washington have enacted legislation supporting the use of EBT machines at farmers’ markets. D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Vermont and Washington created programs and/or appropriated funds to expand access to EBT machines at farmers’ markets. Six states introduced legislation in 2012 to expand use of EBT machines at farmers’ markets, with Vermont successfully appropriating funds to invest in food systems, including EBT machines.

California | District of Columbia | Illinois | Indiana | Louisiana | Massachusetts | Nebraska | New Jersey | North Carolina | Oklahoma | Vermont | Washington
 

Legislation Related to Farmers' Markets

STATE

BILL AND DATE

SUMMARY

California

AB 537 (2010)

Allowed a group or association of produce sellers approved by the Food and Nutrition Service to initiate and operate an Electronic Benefit Transfer system in farmers’ markets.

District of Columbia

B 18-967 (2010)

Established a Healthy Food Retail Program to provide grants, loans and technical assistance to corner stores, farmers’ markets and other small food retailers. Resources may be provided to assist corner stores, farmers markets, and other small food retailers in acquiring the technology necessary to accept SNAP and WIC benefits. As a condition of program participation, entities agreed to sell produce or other healthy foods for at least three years.

Illinois

HB 4756 (2010)

Required the Department of Human Services and the Department of Agriculture to implement a Farmers’ Market Technology Improvement Program to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other eligible food products by allowing SNAP recipients to redeem their benefits at farmers’ markets. It also created a Farmers’ Market Technology Improvement Fund to help purchase or rent wireless EBT terminals, to pay for fees associated with SNAP card use, and to provide education and outreach to SNAP recipients.

Indiana

HB 1535 (2009)

Required the state to implement a program that provides farmers’ market retailers with an EBT terminal no later than Jan. 1, 2010.

Louisiana

HB 840 (2010)

Created the Louisiana Sustainable Local Food Policy Council to consider a number of policies, including an analysis of the possibility of making sustainable local food available under public assistance programs, including the possibility of food stamp use at local farmers markets.

Massachusetts

SB 393 (2009)

This bill established a Massachusetts EBT Farmers’ Market Project. The department provided a wired EBT machine to all approved department of agricultural resources farmers’ markets. The department also made available wireless EBT devices for locations without access to electricity. Every year, the department provides a food stamp recipient with a list of participating farmers’ markets and a brochure explaining the system.

Nebraska

LB 986 (2010)

Authorized grants under the Agricultural Opportunities and Value-Added Partnerships Act to be used to purchase EBT machines at farmers’ markets, and for marketing, promotion and outreach activities related to federally subsidized food and nutrition programs at farmers’ markets.

New Jersey

AB 3688 (2010)

Created the “New Jersey Fresh Mobiles Pilot Program Act” which requires the Department of Agriculture to develop and assist in the implementation of a mobile farmers’ market program for one year. Authorized food vendors would have to accept low-income food vouchers in order to provide mobile farmers’ markets to low income residents of food deserts. The bill also created the “New Jersey Fresh Mobile Operations Fund” to provide financing for fresh food vouchers, advertising, developing and distributing educational materials, and to offset other costs.

North Carolina

SB 1067 (2010)

Created a Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council to consider and develop policies to build a local food economy and increase consumer access to fresh and nutritious foods. The council can analyze the possibility of making sustainable local food available under public assistance programs, including the possibility of being able to use food stamps at local farmers markets, among other tasks.

Oklahoma

HB 2833 (2008)

Continued the Oklahoma Food Security Act until December 2012. The Food Security Committee will analyze efforts to provide farmers’ markets with the technology for accepting food stamps, encouraging use of home and community gardens for food production, and supporting creative transportation methods to connect at-risk populations with nutritious foods.

Vermont

HB 192 (2009)

Appropriated $35,000 to the secretary of agriculture, food and markets to help finance the costs of electronic benefit machines and related expenses at farmers’ markets.

 

HB 781 (2012)

Appropriated $1.175 million in general funds in fiscal year 2013 to the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets for direct grants and investments in food systems. Specifically noted that grants that enable farmers’ markets to accept EBT funds are eligible.

Washington

SB 6483 (2008)

This bill created a number of local food access initiatives, including creating the Washington State Farmers’ Market Technology Improvement Pilot Program to lend technological hardware to farmers’ markets to help develop capability to accept electronic payment cards, including electronic benefits transfers.

  HB 1244 (2009)

Appropriated $600,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 and 2011 to fund the Local Farms and Healthy Kids grant program that, among other local food initiatives, will include a Washington farmers’ market technology improvement pilot program.

Expanding Farmers’ Markets and Strengthening Local Food Systems

Legislatures are also exploring means of supporting farmers’ markets and access to healthy food through infrastructure and investigation. California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana and Oklahoma have recently established task forces, programs or initiatives to increase access to local foods and support farmers’ markets. Connecticut and Rhode Island enacted legislation this year to promote access to local, healthy food through venues such as farmers’ markets. Seven states—Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia—appropriated funds for the construction, maintenance or repair of farmers’ market spaces in 2012. Mississippi, Tennessee and Washington provided tax relief for farmers’ markets.

Arkansas | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Florida | Georgia | Illinois | Iowa | Kansas | Louisiana | Minnesota | Mississippi | New York | North Carolina | Oklahoma | Rhode Island | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vermont | Washington
 

Legislation Related to Expanding Farmers' Markets and Strengthening Local Food Systems

STATE

BILL AND DATE

SUMMARY

Arkansas

SB 271 (2009)

Appropriated $355,429 to the Arkansas Agriculture Department for construction and associated expenses of farmers’ markets.

Colorado

SB 106 (2010)

Created a Food Systems Advisory Council to develop recommendations that promote local food economies. The recommendations may include efforts to make local and healthy foods available to public assistance recipients, including at farmers’ markets.

Connecticut

CT S 804 (2013)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SB 501 b (2012)

This act requires the Department of Agriculture commissioner, upon request of any farmers' market, to include the market on any list of farmers' markets that appears on the department’s website and  in any promotional material about farmers' markets that the department publishes or distributes.

 

Permitted the Commissioner of Agriculture to create and implement a program promoting the marketing of Connecticut farm products. Authorized the commissioner to create a website with a comprehensive listing of Connecticut farmer’s market locations.

District of Columbia

B 18-967 (2010)

Established a Healthy Food Retail Program to provide grants, loans and technical assistance to corner stores, farmers’ markets and other small food retailers. Resources may be provided to assist corner stores, farmers markets, and other small food retailers in acquiring the technology necessary to accept SNAP and WIC benefits. As a condition of program participation, entities agreed to sell produce or other healthy foods for at least three years.

Florida

HB 5001 (2012)

Appropriated $1.225 million for maintenance of state farmers’ markets and $277,000 for safety of state farmers’ markets to the Market Improvements Working Capital Trust Fund.

Georgia

HB 948 (2010)

Appropriated $6,468,238 to the Georgia Department of Agriculture for the management of state farmers’ markets.

 

HB 77 (2011)

Amended HB 948 (2010) to provide additional appropriations to the Georgia Department of Agriculture amounting to $6,550,118 total for the State Fiscal Year 2010 for the management of state farmers’ markets.

 

HB 78 (2011)

Appropriated $6,352,998 to the Georgia Department of Agriculture for the management of state farmers' markets.

 

HB 741 (2012)

Amended HB 78 (2011) to provide additional appropriations to the Georgia Department of Agriculture amounting to $7,179,618 total for the state Fiscal Year 2011 for the management of state farmers’ markets.

 

HB 742 (2012)

Appropriated $6,979,763 to the Georgia Department of Agriculture for the management of state farmers' markets.

Illinois

HJR 19 (2011)

Created the Task Force on Farmers’ Markets to regulate products and practices across counties in accordance with state policy.

 

SB 1852 (2011)

Established the Farmers’ Market Task Force to assist in enacting statewide administrative regulations for farmers’ markets, including food safety and licensing guidelines.  Amended the Sanitary Food Preparation Act in regards to food product safety, labeling, and sanitation.

 

HB 5893 (2012)

Amended the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Law of the Civil Administrative Code to encourage convention center boards to provide center space at a reduce rate or without charge to local farmers’ markets when inclement weather prevents holding the market at its regular outdoor location.

Iowa

HB 2092 (2012)

Allowed for the year-round operation of farmers’ markets for Iowa-produced farm products.  Established an annual license fee for vendors. Altered the definition of a farmers’ market in the state code to include the sale or distribution of potentially hazardous food.

Kansas

KS S 120 – Committee on Agriculture 02/04/2013

This act sets up a central registration of farmers' markets to be maintained by the Department of Agriculture. By having a central registration of farmer’s markets, the Department of Agriculture can promote and encourage farmers’ markets across the states and assist the Department in promoting Kansas agriculture by connecting producers with consumers. Any farmers’ market operator may register with the Secretary for no charge.

Louisiana

SB 299 (2009)

The Healthy Food Retail Act required the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to establish a program that provided grants and loans to healthy food retailers that increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other affordable healthy foods in underserved communities. The program financed farmers’ markets, public markets and other food venues. Applicants had to demonstrate that they will sell fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved communities, especially to SNAP and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participants.

 

HB 840 (2010)

Created the Louisiana Sustainable Local Food Policy Council to consider a number of policies, including an analysis of the possibility of making sustainable local food available under public assistance programs, including the possibility of food stamp use at local farmers markets.

Minnesota

HF 1122 (2009)

Required the commissioner of agriculture to work cooperatively with local governments to promote local farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture. The bill also appropriated $100,000 to identify and promote Minnesota-grown products in retail food establishments and $100,000 for grants to farmers for demonstration projects involving sustainable agriculture.

Mississippi

HB 1566 (2010)

Exempted food products grown, made or processed in Mississippi that are sold at farmers’ markets and are certified by the Department of Agriculture and Commerce from the state sales tax.

 

HB 535 (2012)

Authorized counties or municipalities to donate funds for the support of farmers’ markets certified by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce. Established a ceiling for funding.

New York

SB 627/AB 1025 (2011)

Under the “Empire State Development Fund,” loans, loan guarantees, subsidies, or grants can be made to development agencies, local and regional economic development corporations, non-profits, and other agricultural cooperatives for the construction, reconstruction, improvement, and expansion of wholesale regional farmers’ markets that sell products grown or produced in New York.

 

SB 2803 (2011)

Appropriated $3 million to establish, improve and promote farmers’ markets in select counties.

 

SB 627 (2012)

Amended state Urban Development Corporation Act of 1968 to develop local and regional wholesale farmers’ markets or food hubs. Wholesale farmers’ markets and food hubs are permitted to sell food in large quantities for purchases by people such as consumers, chefs, and restaurants.

North Carolina

SB 444 (2012)

Appropriated $2.250 million in capital improvement to state farmers’ markets from state general funds.

Oklahoma

HB 2833 (2008)

Continued the Oklahoma Food Security Act until December 2012. The Food Security Committee will analyze efforts to provide farmers’ markets with the technology for accepting food stamps, encouraging use of home and community gardens for food production, and supporting creative transportation methods to connect at-risk populations with nutritious foods.

Rhode Island

HB 7701/SB 2611

Directed the Department of Environmental Management to establish the local agriculture and seafood small grants and technical assistance program to promote the sale of Rhode Island seafood and farm products. It also created the interagency food and nutrition policy advisory council to examine regulatory and policy barriers to developing a strong sustainable food economy and healthful nutrition practices.

South Carolina

HB 4814 (2012)

Appropriated $50,000 from the capital reserve fund to the Department of Agriculture for farmers’ market acquisition and expansion.

Tennessee

SB 131 (2007)

Exempted from sales taxes farm products that are marketed and sold directly by farmers to consumers via a nonprofit online farmers’ market.

Vermont

HB 313 (2009)

Created a farm-to-plate investment program to create jobs in the food and farm economy, improve access to healthy, locally grown foods and increase economic development in Vermont’s food and farm sector. The program seeks grant funding to support farm-to-table direct marketing comprised of farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture operations and regional community food hubs. The bill appropriated $100,000 for these purposes.

Washington

HB 2402 (2010)

Provided a property tax exemption on real and personal property owned by a nonprofit organization, association or corporation that is used for a farmers’ market.

 

Nutrition Programs and Farmers’ Markets

Another method for encouraging residents receiving public food assistance to access farmers’ markets is through nutrition programs. Residents with less access to healthy food choices can experience related health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. In 2012, nine states introduced legislation to fund programs such as the federal Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, the Farmers’ Market Coupon Program and the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Five states—Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey and West Virginia—appropriated funds to these programs in 2012. New Jersey funded a farmers’ market program for recipients of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

Illinois | Kentucky | Massachusetts | Mississippi | Nebraska | New Jersey | New York | Pennsylvania | West Virginia
 

Legislation Related to Nutrition Programs and Farmers' Markets
STATE

BILL AND DATE

SUMMARY

Illinois

HB 3717 (2011)

Appropriated $1.5 million for the USDA’s Farmer Market Nutrition Program.

 

SB 2454 (2012)

Appropriates $1.5 million for the USDA’s Farmer Market Nutrition Program.  Appropriated $1 million to the Department of Human Services for the Farmers’ Market Technology Fund.

Kentucky

SB 25 (2007)

Created the Kentucky Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program within the Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The program attempted to provide fresh, locally grown produce to low-income seniors and recipients of the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) among other objectives.

Massachusetts

HB 3535 (2011)

Appropriated $490,000 for the federally funded Farmers’ Market Coupon Program and $571,000 and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.

Mississippi

SB 2996 (2012)

ppropriated $30,000 for the Mississippi Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Pilot Program in the state Department of Agriculture and Commerce and under the authority of the Commissioner of Agriculture. Defined eligibility requirements.

Nebraska

LB 986 (2010)

Authorized grants under the Agricultural Opportunities and Value-Added Partnerships Act to be used to purchase EBT machines at farmers’ markets, and for marketing, promotion and outreach activities related to federally subsidized food and nutrition programs at farmers’ markets.

New Jersey

SB 2013 (2012)

Appropriated $1 million for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and $2.6 million for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program to the Department of Health.

New York

SB 2803 (2011)

Appropriated $21.38 million for the administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) including a sub-allocation to the Department of Agriculture and Markets for state operation of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.

Pennsylvania

HB 1485 (2011)

Appropriated $2.079 million of state funds for Farmers’ Market Food Coupon Program.  Appropriated federal funds for the Farmers’ Market Food Coupon Program and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.

West Virginia

SB 160 (2012)

Appropriated $92,985 of state funds to the Department of Agriculture for the oversight of two farmers’ markets.  Appropriated $62,137 of state funds to the Department of Agriculture for the Senior’s Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.  Appropriated $91,200 of state funds to the Development Office for the oversight of a farmers’ market.