[Market-farming] The Health Department at the Market

Brigette Leach afhg at ctsmail.net
Wed Apr 6 11:22:28 EDT 2011

In Michigan, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has authority over farmers markets, and practices at them. Most regulations are posted online, and in situations where federal rules supersede, links are usually provided. Sometimes there is confusion as to what it means, but for the most part are pretty clear. MDARD is working with farmers markets via the Michigan Farmers Market Association to clarify regulations that are either not clear, or that make life difficult for vendors/markets. Considerable progress has been made due to a cooperative relationship between the two. 

The county health departments have no authority at farmers markets or over on farm stands, but have been known to over reach in the past. Knowledgeable market masters, as well as vendors are a must.

Speaking as someone who helps to manage farmers markets, I think it is imperative that the market/market master communicate requirements to vendors, in advance of the market season whenever possible. Market management, in my opinion, should be working with the agency charged with authority to regulate in order to learn what is acceptable, so that the information can be passed along. I keep copies with me at the market in case a question arises. Secure copies of the laws/statutes/rules, whatever you want to call them, so that those copies can be in your possession when the inspector shows up. Black and white works better than he said, she said. I'm not suggesting anyone be confrontational with inspectors, but being knowledgeable is to your advantage.

Hope this is helpful. Is there a farmers market organization in WV?
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Allan Balliett 
  To: Market Farming 
  Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2011 10:43 PM
  Subject: [Market-farming] The Health Department at the Market

  My apologies if this has been discussed recently and I missed it in the archives.

  It's that time of year.

  Market started this past Sunday and inspectors from the health department came to the market. 

  They have taken issue with;

  packaged goat cheese on ice instead of powered fridge

  eggs in cooler with ice instead of powered fridge

  USDA inspected cyrovacced frozen meat in cooler instead of powered freezer

  Our state health laws state that eggs must be stored so that they are not above 42 degrees. I know most markets allow coolers and I assume most health departments expect the 43 degree temp. Our health department says that only a powered fridge will 'assure' that temperature.

  I know some of you have even more repressive health departments.

  I'm just checking reality and seeing how other states (counties, really!) handle cheese, frozen meats, and eggs. 


  -Allan in WV


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