Farmers markets are essential businesses

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Updated April 23, 2020

Our policy team has developed handouts about state and local regulation of farmers markets during the pandemic and resources to support farmers markets as they adapt to public health and safety standards. These handouts will be updated as more information and resources are available.

 

On March 25, 2020 Missouri Governor Mike Parsons shared important news for food businesses and workers,  including farmers markets and farmers market vendors. 

Parsons announced he had approved a request from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to create a consistent directive across local governments for any individual or business that is part of the food supply chain.

“Farmers, ranchers, agriculture businesses, and grocery stores are encouraged to continue essential business functions to feed Missouri citizens. This guidance supports the list published last week by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security identifying the food and agriculture industry as critical infrastructure during the COVID-19 response.”

In plain terms, this directive means that local health departments in Missouri may not close or restrict the operations of a business which is part of the food supply (agricultural production, manufacturing, distribution or sale of food) in response to the pandemic.

KC Healthy Kids staff has confirmed with officials at Missouri Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Missouri Grown program that this directive does include farmers markets. MDA has detailed information available on their website. MDA officials encourage food and farm workers, including those involved in farmers markets, to carry the following items:

Although farmers’ markets may continue to operate during the pandemic some may choose to adjust operations as the situation evolves. Consumers should check with their local farmers’ market to find the most up to date information.

As with all activities during the pandemic, precautions are still advised, including washing hands and keeping a safe distance (six feet) between you and another person, when possible.

MDA is developing a list of places for growers to go if they need to find new markets for their goods.

  • If you have information to add to this list, please contact Christi Miller, Missouri Grown Program Manager, at miller@mda.mo.gov or (573) 522 4170. 
  • Anyone who is struggling to sell food and agriculture products because of the COVID-19 response should contact the MDA Agriculture Business Development team by email at abd@mda.mo.gov to see if they can connect you with a buyer.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly explicitly exempted farmers markets from the ban on public gatherings, so long as they follow certain requirements, in Executive Order 20-04, effective March 17, 2020. However, local health departments in Kansas may still order closures of farmers markets.

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