Operating a Farmers' Market
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Overview

Are you starting or currently operating a farmers' market in New York State, and looking for more information? Here are a few things you should know:

  • New York does not regulate Farmers' Markets, but we do regulate the foods sold at the market.
  • There is no permit needed from the state to start a farmers' market or operate a farm stand or mobile market. 
  • Your local municipality may require permits or licenses for you to operate your market.

When considering how to start or improve your existing market, we recommend that you first read the Farmers' Market Federation of New York's Guide to Developing a Community Farmers Market.

In addition, a great way to improve your market manager skills is to take the Farmers' Market Manager Certification Program. The Farmers' Market Federation of New York, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, and SUNY Cobleskill have partnered together to create an online curriculum to train and certify farmers’ market managers. The course covers all aspects of managing and growing a successful farmers’ market. The course is offered online under the sponsorship of Cornell University and is funded by New York State's FreshConnect Program. Learn more about this opportunity and get certified today.

The Farmers' Market Designation Program

A farmers' market designation provides the legal basis for New York State wineries and/or micro (craft) breweries/cideries/farm distilleries to sell New York State labeled wine or craft beer/cider/distilled spirits by the bottle at farmers' markets under Sections 76.5 and 51.5 of the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. A "designated" market may be a regularly scheduled farmers' market or a wine, beer, cider, food, craft, or other one-time event that includes a farmers' market with New York State farmers or agricultural producers.

Participating in the Farmers' Market Designation Program supports economic development by increasing producers’ sales at farmers' markets. This program also helps to promote the growth of family and/or private businesses by creating a market for their alcoholic beverage products.

 

Additional Information

As of August 1, 2010, New York State wineries no longer need to obtain "no fee" permits from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to legally sell their New York State labeled wines at designated farmers' markets. The SLA will need only to be informed that the market has been officially "designated" a farmers' market. However, New York State craft breweries must obtain a "no fee permit."

Both wineries and/or micro (craft) breweries must also have tasting permits from the SLA with them on site if they intend to offer tastings to the consumers prior to a sale by the bottle.

Under a 2011 amendment to the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Law, a New York State micro (craft) brewery (defined by New York State law as producing 60,000 barrels a year or less), can sell their beer by the bottle at designated farmers' markets with permits from the SLA.

However, under a 2012 amendment to the New York State ABC law, specially licensed New York State "farm breweries" that source 20% or more of their brewing ingredients (e.g. hops and grains for malt) from New York State farms do not require an SLA permit to sell their "NYS-labeled beer" at designated farmers' markets. Under the same 2012 amendment, New York State "farm distilleries" producing distilled spirits from New York State grown ingredients can sell by the bottle at designated farmers' markets with a permit from the SLA.

Please note that alcohol sales may occur on Sundays only from 10:00 am until midnight.

 

Application

Please fill out the Farmers' Market Designation Program application and submit it to one of the addresses below. Please note that email and fax are preferred.

[email protected]

Fax: (518) 457-8398

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
Nutrition Unit 10B Airline Drive
Albany, New York 12235

 

Note that a traditional farmers' market enrolled in the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program for the program year has been designated a "Farmers' Market" for the purposes of wine, beer, or liquor sales by the bottle.

Nutrition Incentive Programs

While the Department does not administer farmers' markets, we do administer nutrition incentive programs that operate at farmers' markets, farm stands, and mobile markets in New York State. These programs provide additional revenue and customers for farmers and vendors and support other community based benefits. Learn more about the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program and FreshConnect Checks Program below.

The Farmers' Market Nutrition Program

The New York State Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) promotes improved nutrition through increased consumption of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. It is intended to expand farmers' sales at farmers' markets and farm stands.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets administers this as one program, but it is actually two federal programs: the Women, Infants, and Children Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP) and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). Consumers who are eligible for these programs are provided with $4 checks to redeem for fresh, local fruits and vegetables at participating farmers' markets, farm stands, and mobile markets in New York State.

 

Farmers' Market Nutrition Program Application 

Farmers’ markets, farm stands, and mobile markets must enroll if farmers at that market location wish to accept FMNP checks. This enrollment process not only promotes the market on the Department’s website, but also alerts the check customers that they may find farmers there who accept the FMNP Checks for fresh, local, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and culinary herbs. Customers may only spend benefits at markets in New York State participating in the program.

There is no fee to participate, but the market must meet the eligibility requirements and sign up with the Department annually.

Farmers' markets, farm stands, and mobile markets interested in applying to the FMNP should read the FMNP Rules and Procedures for Markets (FMC-4) and then submit an FMNP market application before the program begins.

The recommended application deadline is March 1 to ensure that the market is promoted on the printed market schedule provided to FMNP customers.

 

Apply as a Traditional Farmers' Market

A traditional farmers’ market must have at least two or more agricultural producers. To be eligible for the FMNP, each market must have at least two or more bona fide farmers attending the market each week who also participate in the FMNP. The market must be a weekly reoccurring market, operating three hours per day for three consecutive months per year during the FMNP season. Further information about eligibility can be found in the FMNP Rules and Procedures for Markets (FMC-4).

A complete market application for the FMNP program must include:

  1. Market Participation Agreement (FMC-8)

  2. The market's rules and regulations (e.g. bylaws, vendor agreement, etc.)
  3. FMNP Vendor List (FMC-11)
  4. Training

 

Apply as a Farm Stand

 A farm stand must be a single operator entity selling produce at a fixed location each week. In general, this can be a “pop up” stand, roadside stand, or permanent structure. The operator must be either a bona fide farmer or a private nonprofit agency. The operator must be committed to a weekly reoccurring market, operating three hours per day for three consecutive months per year during the FMNP season.  Further information about eligibility can be found in the FMNP Rules and Procedures for Markets (FMC-4).

A complete farm stand application for the FMNP program must include:

  1. Market Participation Agreement (FMC-8)

  2. The farm stand's rules or regulations, if the operator is a private nonprofit agency (e.g. mission, criteria for farmers, etc.)
  3. Crop Plan (FMC-12) or Supplier List (FMC-10)
  4. Training

Note: If the farm stand is operated by the farmer or grower, that farmer or grower must also submit the FMNP Farmer Application (FMC-6).

 

Apply as a Mobile Market

A mobile market is similar to a farm stand as it must be a single operator selling produce at a fixed location each week. The operator must be either a bona fide farmer or a private nonprofit agency and must operate the market on a weekly reoccurring schedules with two or more stops per day for three consecutive months per year during the FMNP season. Every stop must meet the minimum requirements.

If you are unsure whether you qualify as a mobile market or as a farm stand, please contact the Department.

Further information about eligibility can be found in the FMNP Rules and Procedures for Markets (FMC-4)

A complete mobile market application for the FMNP program must include:

  1. Market Participation Agreement (FMC-8)

  2. Crop Plan (FMC-12) or Supplier List (FMC-10)

  3. Your mobile market's rules and regulations, if the operator is a private nonprofit agency (e.g. mission, criteria for farmers, etc.)

  4. Your mobile market's schedule of stops

  5. Training

Note: if the mobile market is operated by the farmer or grower, they must also submit the farmer application. 

 

Eligible Food Items

Customers may spend the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Checks only for fresh, local, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and culinary herbs. 

 

Redeeming Farmers' Market Nutrition Program Checks

Market operators do not have a role in the FMNP check redemption process. Authorized farmers receive enrollment materials from the Department that enable them to bring the FMNP checks directly to their bank.

FMNP Related Documents

  •  

    FMNP Vendor List (FMC-11)

    Fill in the information below for every fruit and vegetable vendor anticipated to attend/is currently attending your market during either the FMNP season (June 1 – November 30) or from your market’s opening day to your closing day, whichever is the shorter season.

     

    Download

  •  

    FMNP Supplier List (FMC-10)

    Fill in the information below for every fruit and vegetable supplier (business) anticipated to supply/is currently supplying this market during either the FMNP season (June 1 – November 30), or from the market’s opening day to closing day, whichever is the shorter.

     

    Download

The FreshConnect Checks Program

The FreshConnect Checks Program supports local farmers by providing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) consumers a way to increase their purchasing power at New York State farmers’ markets, and by providing a direct incentive for veterans, service members, and their immediate families to use the benefits at New York State farmers’ markets, farm stands, and mobile markets

This program drives revenue to farmers or vendors in the form of $2 paper coupons, and can be utilized to create a new customer base, help expand access to fresh food in underserved communities, improve the diet of individuals in those communities, and foster economic development in that community.

Farmers' market that enroll and participate in the New York State Wireless EBT Program may be eligible to issue the $2 coupon to SNAP customers, while veterans, service members, and their immediate families obtain the coupon from their regional Veterans Affairs Office.

Any farmer or vendor who is selling a SNAP eligible food items at any farmers’ market, farm stand, or mobile market operating in New York State may accept a FreshConnect Check.

 

Operating the FreshConnect Checks Program

If you are a market manager interested in having your market be a part of the FreshConnect Checks Program, here's what you need to know:

  • There is no application for farmers or markets and it is free to participate.
  • The market must operate a central SNAP terminal using the token system/
  • Market operators must learn about the program and how it operates. They can do this by:

When you are ready to operate the program, you must contact the Department to request an allocation of FreshConnect Checks. The Department will as you for:

  1. Your SNAP sales from the previous year.
  2. A shipping address for the checks. This cannot be a PO box.
  3. Information regarding any other SNAP-based incentive program that operates at the market.

Market operators may request promotional signs for the FreshConnect Checks program to give to their farmers and vendors who wish to participate.

Markets who issue FreshConnect Checks are promoted on the Department's website.

Any farmers' market, farm stand, or mobile market in New York State is an eligible location for customers with FreshConnect Checks to spend their benefit for any eligible food items sold there.

 

Redeeming FreshConnect Checks

Farmers and vendors must redeem these coupons through the mail. Managers may choose to redeem the coupons for their farmers and get reimbursed by submitted them through the mail.

FreshConnect Checks must be mailed, along with the Universal Redemption form, to:

The Farmers Market Federation of New York

109 Twin Oaks Drive

Syracuse, New York 13206

 
Eligible Food Items

FreshConnect Checks are used to purchase SNAP eligible food items. For a complete list of these food items, please refer to the USDA's list of SNAP eligible food items

Some examples of eligible and ineligible foods include:

Eligible (YES) NOT Eligible (NO)
Breads and cereals Beer, wine, and liquor
Fruits and vegetables Cigarettes and tobacco
Meats, fish, and poultry Pet foods
Honey Soaps and lotions
Coffee (whole beans and/or ground) Vitamins and medicines
Apple cider Hot foods to eat at the market
Dairy products Other prepared foods to eat at the market
Pasta  
Baked goods to eat at home  
Seeds and plants that produce food  

 

FreshConnect Related Documents

Contact the Nutrition Unit

Contact us by phone:
Contact us by email:
Mailing Address:

New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets
Nutrition Unit
10B Airline Drive
Albany, NY 12235

Contact us by fax:
(518) 457-8398