As the spread of COVID-19 continues to be a concern, farmers market operators are looking for ways to respond. In Texas, the local health department or department can issue a permit to a farmer or food producer who sells food at a farmers market. To ensure the safety of customers and vendors, market operators are developing communications, preparing contingency plans and, in some regions, modifying operations and considering closing. Senate Bill 617 (87th Legislature, 202) introduced several changes to the Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 437, which is the underlying law for retail food safety.
This includes farmers markets and home-cooked foods in Texas. Agricultural market operators are among the leaders in how local foods are coping with this historic moment, including “drive-thru” models, delayed entry and prepackaged products. When determining when to implement operational changes, farmers market operators should consult their local health departments for updated details in their community. A farmers market must include at least two vendors who meet the definition of farmer as defined in paragraph (of this section) and may include vendors that meet the definition of food producer as defined in paragraph (of this section).
The provision of free samples and the sale of prepared foods to the general public are also important considerations for farmers markets. ALL farmers markets and ALL vendors who sell at farmers markets are considered agricultural businesses and, therefore, ALL are considered medium risk. Markets are striving to fulfill their role as public meetings that are vital to consumers' access to food and farmers' livelihoods. Agricultural market operators and promoters should advocate that markets remain open whenever possible.
This will help ensure that customers have access to fresh produce and other goods while also providing a source of income for farmers. It is important to note that this article did not address the online platforms that some market leaders are using to create new external purchasing systems; that topic will be covered in future webinars. As an expert in SEO, I understand how important it is for market operators to ensure their safety protocols are up-to-date and properly communicated. To help protect customers and vendors alike, I have compiled a guide on safety protocols for vendors at farmers markets in Tarrant County.
PermitsThe first step for any vendor selling at a farmers market is obtaining a permit from their local health department or department.
This permit will allow them to legally sell their products at the market. It is important to note that each county may have different requirements for obtaining a permit, so it is important to check with your local health department or department before applying.
Operational ChangesIn order to ensure the safety of customers and vendors, market operators should consider implementing operational changes such as “drive-thru” models, delayed entry and prepackaged products. When determining when to implement these changes, it is important to consult with your local health department or department for updated details in your community.
Free Samples & Prepared FoodsThe provision of free samples and the sale of prepared foods to the general public are also important considerations for farmers markets. All vendors who sell at farmers markets are considered agricultural businesses and therefore all are considered medium risk.
It is important to note that these safety protocols should be followed even if your market does not offer free samples or prepared foods.