The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recently revealed significant changes made to farmers’ market regulations. The new laws seek to unify the regulations and licensing required to participate at a farmers’ market. Up till now, for example, participants did not have to seek individual licenses, but were covered by the entire market, which had to seek licensure and was responsible for violations committed at the market. The new law requires each vendor to obtain their own license and remove collective liability from the market as a while.
In addition to individual licensing, the new laws better regulate which products must be licensed. Prepackaged, non-harmful foods, such as bottled juices, do not need licenses. Likewise, raw fruits and vegetables, those grown naturally and delivered directly to the consumer, can avoid licensing. Potentially harmful foods, however, would require significant regulation. Vendors selling meats, for example, would now be required to have a sink to sanitize their products and workstation.
These new regulations have sparked debate. Opponents say that the law is unfairly burdensome to small producers. Many farmers, they argue, cannot afford the multiple licenses required to operate in more than one location. Some also resent the increasing regulation of state government officials.
Supporters, however, claim that the laws are fair and are applied evenly. Overall, they claim, the goal is food safety. The new regulations were spurred by repeated health violations reported at some farmers’ markets.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer