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Licensing at Farmers Markets

Farmers markets, farm markets and individual sellers of fruits and vegetables at roadside stands are commonly found throughout Michigan. Farmers markets range from well-established operations in permanent structures to temporary sites using folding tables or truck tailgates. A vibrant entrepreneurial agriculture industry that is focusing on value added processing and sales has greatly increased the numbers of markets such as these in Michigan.

Farmers markets that are more temporary in nature will be inspected using the MDARD Fact Sheet, "Temporary Food Establishment Operations Checklist" and the MDARD Inspection Guide, "Self Inspection Guide for Farmers Markets". Farmers markets operating within permanent, improved structures will be inspected using the FDA Model Food Code.

Definitions 

  • Farmers Market - A location established in accordance with local ordinance and operated in compliance with Act No. 92, the Michigan Food Law, where farmers may transport and sell to the public fruits, vegetables or other agricultural products. Farmers market vendors may operate intermittently but for licensing purposes will be considered a permanent operation.

  • Farm Market - An on-farm location established in accordance with local ordinance and operated in compliance with Act No. 92, the Michigan Food Law, where an individual farmer may sell to the public fruits, vegetables or other agricultural products. On-farm markets may operate intermittently but for licensing purposes will be considered a permanent operation.

  • Roadside Stand - A temporary operation established in accordance with local ordinance and operated in compliance with Act No. 92, the Michigan Food Law, where an individual farmer may transport and sell to the public fruits, vegetables or other agricultural products.

Background 

Farmers markets, farm markets and individual sellers of fruits and vegetables at roadside stands are commonly found throughout Michigan. Farmers markets range from well-established operations in permanent structures to temporary sites using folding tables or truck tailgates. A vibrant entrepreneurial agricultural industry that is focusing on value added processing and sales has greatly increased the number of these markets in Michigan.

Even though a farmers market vendor is considered a temporary food establishment, for ease of licensing, a licensee at a farmers market should be considered as having an annual license.

Market vendors will be inspected using requirements outlined in the MDARD Fact Sheet, "Temporary Food Establishment Operations Checklist", unless the vendor operates within an improved, permanent market building.

Exemptions

There are several exemptions from licensing based on law and policy. A food establishment may be exempt from licensing, but is not exempt from aspects of food safety or consumer protection. Specific examples of exempted establishments that may be present at farmers' markets include:

  1. Retailers of whole, uncut produce: Sites may be temporary or permanent in duration. This may include open-air roadside sites, tents, open-air markets, market stalls or operations located within a building.

  2. Licensed agricultural producers and food processors, retailing products of their own production: Must be licensed at the base facility: Products must be made exclusively from producers own product, e.g., meat, poultry, eggs, cider.

  3. Processors/producers of prepackaged, non potentially hazardous and/or shelf stable food retailing products of their own production: Must be licensed at the base facility and utilize an employee of the firm to operate at the point of sale location. This includes all establishments either licensed as a limited food processor (FLP) or having gross sales under $25,000.

  4. Retailers of honey & maple syrup: Must be of seller's own production with gross sales less than $15,000 per year.

  5. Temporary food establishments with only single service, non-potentially hazardous food or beverage: Single service portions of prepackaged or dispensed food or drink such as; soft drinks, cider, coffee, donuts, popcorn or ice cream novelties. All food must be from licensed facilities. No on-site preparation is allowed.

  6. Sale of incidental prepackaged non-potentially hazardous food: While farmers' markets are by nature temporary, a vendor at a farmers' market may sell an incidental amount of non-potentially hazardous food (5 percent or less). Consideration however, must be given to the source of the product and storage once removed from the venue. A license would be required for storage of the food product.

All food must be prepared and packaged at the licensed facility (unless operating as a Cottage Food business) and comply with labeling and Federal meat standards when necessary. Sampling may be possible based on market and vendor facilities.

Related Content
 •  Guidelines for Providing Safe Food Samples at Farmers Markets PDF icon
 •  Farmers Market Requirements
 •  Guidelines for Providing Safe Food Samples
 •  Farmers Market FAQ
 •  Farmers Market Self Inspection Guide PDF icon
 •  Temporary Food Establishment Operations Checklist
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