Creating Farmers’ Market Rules and Regulations

One of the requirements of operating a certified farmers’ market is that the market operator has rules and regulations in place. You may be required to submit a copy of these rules and regulations when applying for a permit to open a certified farmers’ market.

The legal requirements can be found in the California Food and Agriculture Code:

(g) Operators of certified farmers’ markets may establish rules and procedures that are more restrictive and stringent than state laws or regulations governing or implementing this chapter, so long as the rules and procedures are not in conflict with state laws or regulations.

(h) Except for certified farmers’ markets operated by government agencies, nonprofit entities and other qualified operators of certified farmers’ markets shall be considered private entities and may take actions, adopt rules, and impose requirements they deem necessary for the proper and honest operation of their market, subject to the application of any state or other laws. Government agency operators of certified farmers’ markets are subject to applicable state laws, the regulations and laws of the governing agency, and other laws governing the conduct and actions they may take as a governmental entity.

47004 [2015]

Additional requirements and guidance can be found in the California Code of Regulations, which are put into place by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

  • Market rules are defined as “A set of written rules or regulations approved by each certified farmers’ market. The rules and regulations may be more stringent than established state regulations, provided they do not violate or conflict with any state law or regulation governing their activities.” 1392.1(p)
  • If a farmers’ market operator wishes to allow farmers to use the “second certificate” rules to sell for another farmer, and the conditions under which those sales may take place, must be detailed in the market’s rules and regulations.
  • Procedures for the following items are required by the California Code of Regulations to be included in farmers’ market rules and regulations. More information on each of these four items is included in this section.
    • Admission of any producer to the market(s).
    • Admission of any agricultural products to the market(s).
    •  Removal of any producer from the market(s).
    •  Allowing a farmer to sell on behalf of another farmer.
  • The California Code of Regulations authorizes farmers’ market operators to include the following items in farmers’ market rules and regulations, but they are not required. o Type and number of producers and certified producers admitted.
    • Type and number of certified and noncertifiable products admitted.
    • Methods of selling certified and noncertifiable agricultural products.
  • The rules and regulations must contain a clause, which states that the governing body and its designated agents shall implement and enforce all rules and regulations pertaining to the operation of a certified farmers’ market in a fair and equitable manner.
  • A current copy of the rules and regulations shall be sent to the Department of Food and Agriculture, and to the agricultural commissioner of the county in which the certified farmers’ market is located.

In addition to these regulatory requirements, there are best practices developed by farmers’ market operators throughout the state concerning what should be included within the rules and regulations for a market.

You may find it useful to review the published rules and regulations for other farmers’ markets as you develop them for your own market. Some farmers’ markets that have published their rules and regulations on their websites include Agricultural Institute of Marin, Crescent City Farmers’ Market, Davis Farmers’ Market, Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, and Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets.

Reviewing the rules that these organizations have created can help you think about the rules that you would like to put into place to help shape your farmers’ markets. The website URLs for each of these documents can be found in Appendix D.

Your rules and regulations can be as extensive or as simple as you like, as long as they meet the minimum legal requirements. There are some topics that experienced farmers’ market managers recommend be included in your rules:

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