To become a successful seller at a farmer's market, you'll need to have a unique and in-demand product or service. You'll also need to meet the market's requirements for sellers, which may include liability insurance, a food handling license, and a sales tax permit. Texas farmers markets provide an excellent opportunity for farmers, food producers, and other vendors to sell their products directly to the public. The regulations for Texas agricultural markets are contained in Title 25, Chapter 229.701-704 of the Texas Administrative Code (25 TAC 229.701-704).
Below are links to farmers' market regulations and FAQs. According to Article 229.702, a “farmer” is defined as “a person or entity that produces agricultural products, including, but not limited to, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, cereals, honey, dairy products, meat, poultry, or eggs, through the practice of agricultural arts on land that the person or entity owns, rents, or leases or to which the person or entity otherwise has access”. A “farmers market” is defined as “a place designated for a recurring event in which most vendors are farmers or other food producers who sell food directly to consumers”. At least two vendors must meet the definition of a farmer and the majority of vendors must be farmers or food producers throughout the year.
However, vendors who are not farmers or food producers can also participate in the market. A farmers market is not considered a food service establishment and therefore does not require a food handler card or certified food manager certificate. If the food vendor is associated with a “genuine” cooking demonstration, then the farmers market must have a certified food manager. Under HSC 437.020 (b-), the regulatory authority may not require a permit to require samples at an agricultural market. A sample is defined as a bite-sized portion and not an entire portion.
A temporary food establishment permit is not required to provide samples at a farmers market. Under HSC 437.020 (e), raw milk and raw dairy products cannot be sold at an agricultural market. However, according to 25 TAC 217.31 (b), grade A raw milk and grade A raw dairy products can be delivered to a location determined by the processor and the customer, even at an agricultural market as long as it does not violate local ordinance. Selling inedible plants at farmers markets requires a Class M nursery floral license issued by the Texas Department of Agriculture which can be applied for online at their website. Downtown vendors at SFC Farmers' Market are exempt from paying an application fee as the City exempts farmers who sell eggs in Austin from paying fees. Some of the products allowed to be sold at farmers' markets include whole uncut products; meat and meat products; canned goods such as tomatoes, condiments, sauces and pickled pumpkins; honey; eggs; and some non-food products.
Meats can be sold at farmers' markets if they were slaughtered in an authorized facility and the seller has the appropriate permits. Place them in a plastic bag and keep them away from other foods so that juices do not drip onto them. Be sure to include the central preparation facility used as the place where you store your product among the markets.
Food Safety RegulationsWith the growing popularity of farmers' markets, consumers need to know the rules that govern what vendors can sell and how to ensure food safety. Vendors should take all necessary precautions when handling food items such as wearing gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods and washing hands frequently throughout the day.
It is also important for vendors to keep their work area clean and free of debris that could contaminate food items. Vendors should also keep their products refrigerated when necessary and use thermometers to ensure that foods are cooked properly. Finally, vendors should always label their products with ingredients lists so that customers know what they are buying.