“We’re riding the wave of the local food movement,” said Bevan Linsley, Farmers Market Manager and Farmers Market Manager Conference organizer. This conference focused on tools Market Managers could use to improve food safety.
Janet Coit, Director of the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) shared her excitement that RI has over 50 summer farmers’ markets. As farmers increase local production, their customers grow local economies while protecting farmland and open space. She reminded attendees “RI Governor Chafee wants to encourage small business owners; farms are small businesses that result in thousands of jobs. The Governor loves to be on the land and to promote local Ag businesses.” Last year the RI Legislature established a RI Food Policy Council and recently created an Interagency Food Council. The state recently approved funding for a new grant program intended to help develop and market local agriculture.
Ken Ayars, RI Division of Agriculture Chief told participants that when Farmers Markets include prepared or baked goods, markets require “Special Food Events” permits and vendors need a food business license pursuant to RI Department of Health rules. Different rules and regulations apply than those of Farmers Markets selling only raw produce. Individually wrapped baked goods must be labeled with their ingredients (in order of volume), nutritional content and allergy warnings (nuts, dairy, etc.) Any farmers market vendor selling items other than produce (whole, uncut) needs a license. Market Managers are responsible to tell the state who will be at their markets. It will be up to the state to oversee their licenses and verify their compliance.
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