Memorandum by the National Farmers' Retail
& Markets Association (FARMA) (MARKETS 27)
1. The National Farmers' Retail & Markets
Association (FARMA) is the representative body in the UK for farmers'
markets and direct sales from the producer. It is a member of
the Retail Markets Alliance which has made a separate submission
that provides an overview about traditional retail markets.
1.1 This submission concentrates on farmers'
1.2 Farmers' markets have been the chief
instrument of a change in the food culture in the UK over the
past 10 years. Farmers' markets made local foods visible and accessible
to a large number of people, and supported a growing number of
farmers and artisan food producers keen to revive food traditions
as well as bring new products to the market place.
"The resurgence of interest in food in UK
society is epitomised by the growth of the farmers' market movement
... These trends are seen by some as not just indicative of a
renewed interest in the provenance and quality of food but representative
of an alternative food system that co-exists with `conventional'
systems of farming, food manufacture and retail."
Cabinet Office, Food Matters, Towards a Strategy
for the 21st Century (July 2008)
1.3 It is no accident that local foods are
synonymous with quality foods, and that farmers' markets are identified
as places to buy these foods. The attractive concept has needed
firm steering from the start so that it did not become diluted
with imported goods and traders who have no direct relationship
with the foods sold ie wholesalers and middle-men buying from
other sources. Rules were put in place that determined what a
farmers' market should be; these are checked and policed through
a Certification system implemented by FARMA. As a result, people
trust farmers' markets and enjoy shopping there because it is
a different and rewarding experience.
"For consumers, farmers' markets offer an
opportunity to escape the familiar retail experience offered by
the large supermarkets. For producers, they are an opportunity
to gain a premium for unique, artisan, home-produced foodstuffs
which they may not be able to sell to major retailers owing to
scale issues and the process of supermarket buying."
Cabinet Office, Food Matters, Towards a Strategy
for the 21st Century (July 2008)
1.4 This document calls for farmers' markets
to continue to be recognised as special markets, with a framework
of rules and an inspection procedure. It calls for this recognition
to extend to codification of farmers' markets standards so that
Trading Standards Officers can be empowered with regard to improper
use of the term "farmers' market".
1.5 Farmers' markets that are Certified
under the FARMA scheme may then ask for some simple privileges
which will further support their healthy development such as derogations
under signage and planning law.
1.6 This document calls for national and
local government to recognise that this is a fragile, young sector
and that the impact of regulation is often disproportionate on
1.7 The first successful modern farmers'
market took place in September 1997; there are now some 800 farmers'
and producers' markets operating in the UK. They have become part
of the food vocabulary for food writers, chefs and the public
at large and are recognised as instruments in many areas of local
and national government policy.
1.8 This document describes how farmers'
markets are special. They improve the quality of life of communities
and bring people together; they can help to revitalise town and
city centres and improve local economies as well as support the
livelihoods of farmers and entrepreneurial individuals.
Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 6, section 2:27
"Street and covered markets, including farmers'
markets, can make a valuable contribution to consumer choice and
diversity in shopping as well as the vitality of town centres
and to the rural economy."
2.1 Farmers' markets offer locally produced
foods and crafts, sold to the public directly by those who have
grown, reared, caught or made them with locally-grown ingredients.
Millions of people have welcomed the renaissance of an ancient
idea, a market that springs from its community of farmers, artisan
food producers and land-based crafts and which offers contact,
information and essentials of local distinctiveness. A thriving
farmers' market enriches the quality of life of its community.
2.2 Farmers' markets are seen as quality outlets.
Unlike general markets, farmers' markets are defined by rules
which are supported by Certified standards, established by FARMA.
Stallholders must fulfil key criteria (see 3.6). While general
markets have been in decline, farmers' markets have grown rapidly
over the past decade.
2.3 Market towns are based on ancient markets
at which, for hundreds of years, local farmers regularly sold
their produce. From the 1950's, supermarkets grew in size and
number and took farmers' produce into their centralised distribution
networks, almost stifling the local market for produce. As farmers
withdrew, traditional retail markets turned to selling general
goods and foods from wholesale markets. Their image suffered and
their popularity dwindled.
2.4 In 1997 the first modern farmers' market
in the UK started, referencing successful farmers' markets in
North America where standards/criteria had been applied. In the
UK, there was growing consumer interest in local foods and alternatives
to supermarkets, which farmers' markets thrived on and fuelled.
There are now some 800 farmers' markets recorded in the UK, mainly
in England and operating mainly on a monthly basis.
2.5 Farmers' markets are popular with 30-33%
of households shopping at least annually (YouGov tracking research
commissioned by FARMA 2004-08). Some £250million is spent
at farmers' markets annually, money which circulates in the local
economy first (New Economics Foundation, LM3). Some 10,000 farmers
and small businesses directly rely on farmers' markets for some
or all of their livelihood.
2.6 Benefits of farmers' markets include:
enabling farmers and farming to become
more visible (linking farmer and consumer, urban and rural);
fostering an appreciation of good food
that can be produced in each locality (local distinctiveness);
enabling many farms to be/remain viable
through diversification to produce for a local market;
improving local economies, reviving town
centres (although not a panacea);
reinforcing local identity and building
encouraging the development of new skills
eg artisan cheese-making, bakers, butchery; and
improving the quality of life for local
2.7 Farmers' markets are different from
general markets in that:
they are embedded in a supply-side based
on local farms and craft-scale producers, who need the markets
as much as the markets need them to develop capacity;
they work with, and have strong links
with, the community they serve;
while general markets tend to be managed
by local authorities there are many different kinds of farmers'
market operators, including local authorities or town centre management
but also community groups, farmers' and producers' groups, entrepreneurial
individuals and private management companies;
they require protection and standards
so that they remain distinctive and do not degenerate. Car-boot
sales are a good example of a concept debased through lack of
with a few exceptions, farmers' markets
do not integrate well with general markets (see 4.5).
2.8 Summary of Recommendations
2.8.1 To maintain distinctiveness and consumer
trust in the term "farmers' market" (which cannot be
trademarked and is open to abuse), FARMA established a Certification
programme in 2002. It is voluntary and some 250 farmers' markets
are Certified within the scheme. Certification is a very useful
tool that distinguishes real farmers' markets and could provide
a means for establishing a number of benefits from local authorities
and national government to encourage further healthy development
of farmers' markets.
FARMA calls for the term "farmers' market"
to be codified by the Food Standards Agency with the standards
set by FARMA Certification made compulsory for any market using
the name "farmers' market", "producers' market"
or similar term, and Trading Standards Officers empowered to enforce.
2.8.2 Disproportionate effect of legislation,
targeted at larger businesses, on the micro-businesses and SME's
that make up farmers' market operators and stallholders. Examples
of this are:
Licensing laws which require Individual
and Premises Licences or costly Temporary Event Notices.
Signage: legislation designed to end
the abuse of "temporary" advertising (as displayed in
fields alongside motorways) has prompted some local authorities
to ban all signage for farmers' markets.
FARMA calls for recognition of micro-businesses
and SME's in legislation to ensure appropriate measures and derogations
are included under British and EU law; we suggest a fast-track
approval for signage for Certified farmers' markets.
2.8.3 FARMA calls for changes to Planning law,
which currently allows up to 14 events a year without the need
for planning permission (Class B of Part 4 of the Town and Country
Planning General Permitted Development Order 1995), and is among
the reasons that most farmers' markets operate just once a month.
FARMA calls for a derogation in the Planning
laws to allow up to 60 Certified farmers' markets events a year
before planning permission is needed.
2.8.4 Supply-side changes
New producersparticularly of primary
produce such as fruit and vegetablesare needed to boost
existing and create new farmers' markets. Council-owned smallholdings
have in the past provided land at low cost rents for start-up
farmers; these are diminishing in number as they are sold off
Local authorities encouraged to retain and make
smallholdings available at reasonable rents, and increase the
amount of land on offer under a scheme to encourage new entrants
to farming. All agricultural and farming policy decisions should
be tested in the light of a policy/strategy for small farms.
2.8.5 Market Charter Rights
Ancient Market Charter rights can be held by
local authorities or individual land-owners and state that no
market may be established within six and two-thirds miles of a
Charter market site, whether or not there is actually a market
on the site, and whether or not an actual Charter document can
be found. Charter Rights can be invoked to constrain the development
of farmers' markets (eg in Leicestershire) either by disallowing
the farmers' market or charging high fees for a license.
A review of Charter Rights to establish whether
this ancient law is needed. Certified farmers' markets should
be exempt from the restrictions imposed by Charter Rights and/or
a peppercorn fee charged for licenses where they are applied.
2.8.6 Lack of infrastructure for markets and
Farmers' markets operate in temporary facilities
which can make good retail practice difficult, through lack of
power supply and running water to the site of the market. Recommendation:
local authorities should be required to create designated areas,
including appropriate outdoor areas, for markets and farmers'
markets which incorporate power supply and running water.
2.8.7 Local authorities support for Certified
farmers' markets as community-enhancing activity
Local authority support is critical for the
sustained healthy development of the alternative local foods network
and land-based crafts supply to communities. There are social,
health and economic benefits (see 3.6) inherent in a successful
local farmers' market. While there are some good examples of support,
it is often lacking hindering the access to good sites, signage,
promotion of local foods within local government and missing the
potential local foods as a tourist attraction.
That a cross-cutting group is established of
markets & farmers' markets, local authority representatives,
trading standards, environmental health bodies and interested
government departments. This should be replicated on a county
3.1 Farmers' have sold direct to customers
for centuries. Market towns grew around markets which were based
on food produced locally being sold on regular and frequent market
3.2 The growth of supermarkets changed markets
and, as supermarkets increased their dominance from the 1950's,
most traditional retail food markets declined in popularity.
3.3 Farmers, particularly those on small,
family-run farms who traditionally sold at retail or wholesale
markets, have needed to find alternative routes to sell their
produce. Direct sales through pick-your-own, farm shops, box schemes
(home delivery) have grown in number and sophistication over the
past thirty years. For the past 10 years, farmers' markets have
provided a new, accessible and attractive means for farmers to
3.4 The growth of farmers' markets
Interest in the growth of farmers' markets
in North America led to the Farm Retail Association (FRA) in 1996
adopting a policy of support for introducing them in the UK. The
FRA worked with the Ministry of Agriculture Food & Fisheries
(MAFF) to trial the retail concept. Independently the Local
Agenda 21 office at Bath & North-East Somerset Council set
out to pilot a farmers' market, and introduced the first modern
farmers' market in September 1997. A BBC TV Countryfile programme
featuring this Bath market and the growth of farmers' markets
in the USA led to a high level of interest from many different
potential operators, including community sustainability teams
within local authorities.
We believe that there are currently around
800 farmers' or producers' markets in the UK. Of these we estimate
that 600 are regular (mainly monthly) farmers' markets, of which
250 are FARMA Certified.
The combined value of sales at farmers'
markets we estimate to be £250million annually. The total
value of the direct sales sector we estimate to be £2 billion
annually. Some 10,000 farmers and producers take part in farmers'
markets, where some 250,000 "stallholder-days" have
been created in the last decade.
Farmers' markets thrived on and fuelled
the growing consumer interest in an alternative food supply chain
that bypassed the supermarkets. Farmers have re-skilled as butchers
and chefs and a new breed of artisan food producers has been encouraged
through a low cost and relatively easy
access to the market place.
Farmers' markets have been a welcome
addition to community life and important to UK tourism.
Direct communication with consumers ensures
that stallholders at farmers' markets are operating to high animal
welfare and environmental standards.
3.5 Background to FARMA
In 1998 MAFF facilitated the formation
of the National Association of Farmers' Markets (NAFM) with four
sponsoring organisations working together (Bath Environmental
Centre, FRA, National Farmers Union, Soil Association). NAFM published
standards and encouraged the development of farmers' markets throughout
the UK. By early 2001 there were 200 farmers' markets.
Almost all closed due to foot and mouth disease in spring 2001,
damaging the impetus and confidence of producers and organisers.
In 2002 a Certification programme for farmers' markets was introduced
In 2003 the memberships of the FRA and
NAFM voted to merge to form FARMA. This produced a social enterprise
which combined the interests of farmers/producers selling direct
with farmers' markets organisers. FARMA is constituted as a not-for-profit
FARMA has a membership of 700 of which
100 are farmers' markets managers or management organisations,
representing some 250 farmers' market locations.
3.6 What is a farmers' market?
FARMA sets key criteria that define a farmers'
market. These are:
(c) the principal stallholder should be involved
in production; and
(d) there is information at each stall and within
the market about the produce sold.
These criteria mean that:
middlemen do not sell at farmers' markets;
producers take full responsibility for
what they bring to the market;
producers are able to take the full margin;
a local food and crafts network is catalysed;
routes to markets for small farms and
smaller-scale producers are enabled;
a spirit of enterprise is fostered;
consumers benefit from more information
about their food and where it comes from; and
seasonality improves variety.
The benefits that farmers' markets bring to
participants and communities are:
Economiclocal businesses are supported;
farmers' markets bring footfall which improves other businesses
in town centres.
together to create effective retail markets means more co-operation
and partnerships; rekindling of food production skills eg development
of artisan cheeses.
More diverse farming, range of crops
and types of livestock enhances biodiversity.
Farming viability improved, younger generation
stays on the farm to work.
Social and educational benefits for a
local communityimproving the quality of life.
A spirit of community is fostered through
contacts made at the farmers' market.
Shorter food chains mean fresher food,
potentially more variety/choices, arguably better quality food.
Seasonality means that people buy a greater
variety of different foods; and it can be cheaper than the supermarkets.
Diet can be improved through this, and
through the requirement to cook fresh foods.
The dialogue between customer and producer
is a powerful mechanism to encourage producers to develop/maintain
high environmental and animal welfare standards.
Reduced food miles arguably produce an
There is little or no packaging which
reduces waste and the environmental impact of disposal.
Farmers' markets are part of the tourism
offer and catalytic to other food events eg food festivals.
The diagram above shows the relationship between
the local food supply, the community and locations in which farmers'
Farmers' markets come from the grass-roots of
their community. The best are deeply embedded in their community.
This is the key distinction between farmers' markets and general
markets: the people involved as stallholders and the products
sold are all related to the place.
Types of operators include:
producer owned organisations (eg Thames
Valley Farmers' Markets Co-operative Ltd, Hampshire Farmers' Markets
specialist private operators (eg London
Farmers' Markets Ltd, Made in Stroud);
local authorities (eg Waverley Borough
Council, North Lincolnshire Council);
community voluntary groups (eg Deddington
Community Initiative, Moseley Neighbourhood Forum); and
local voluntary groups (eg Frieds of
the EarthMaidenhead, Salvation ArmyHadleigh, Essex).
3.7 Who shops at farmers' markets
FARMA conducts annual consumer tracking research.
For GB in 2008:
57% of households were aware of a farmers'
market in their locality.
30% of households shopped at a farmers'
market at least annually.
Amongst ABC1's this was 36% and amongst
C2DE's this was 24%.
3.8 Standards at farmers' markets
FARMA sets the standards for farmers' markets
which are based on the core criteria described in 3.6. Certification
is based on an independent inspection by an accredited inspectorate.
Since 2002 this has been SA Certification. (Note that organic
production is not a criterion for farmers' markets).
The standards set and the inspection process have
distinguished farmers' markets from general markets. Certification
is part of a strategy to ensure that consumers have trust and
confidence in farmers' markets and that a high quality standard
is maintained in all aspects of the market.
FARMA's Certification is voluntary, and there
is a cost to the market for participating.
4.1 How markets have changed in the past decade
The most significant innovation has been the
introduction and strong growth of farmers' markets, representing
a return to a tradition almost-forgotten as supermarkets rose
to dominate food retailing. At the same time, general markets
have seen a decline in fortunes indicating that farmers' markets
are providing a real alternative, quality shopping experience
that meets expectations and continues to deliver on its promises.
4.2 The number of general markets now stands
at around 1,150; the number of farmers' markets is estimated to
be 800. There will be change in the number of farmers' markets
at any one time as some will not succeed in attracting the customer/stallholder
base needed for sustainability. Unlike general markets which tend
to be in purpose-built locations and running more than one day
a week for most of the day, farmers' markets operate mostly once
a month, for four or five hours, at a variety of temporary locations
from village halls to car parks, streets and pedestrianised areas,
market squares and farms.
4.3 Are there obstacles hindering the creation
of more markets?
Imposition of fees/rentals which become
unaffordable. These include charges for licenses, advertising
road closure, rent for premises and charges eg for putting up
and taking down market stalls.
Temporary signage blocked, or made difficult.
Lack of investment in outdoor market
Lack of co-ordination between different
levels of local government and departments.
4.3.2 Lack of stallholders
Insistence on standards means that farmers' markets
are not open to all-comers; farmers and food producers are eligible
to attend along with land-based crafts. The shortage of primary
producers (fruit and vegetable growers particularly) might be
addressed through recognition that local authority smallholdings
offer a low-rent first-step farming opportunity, generally close
to town/city boundaries which particularly benefits urban farmers'
markets. Council-owed smallholdings have been sold-off over the
years and there has been little encouragement for new entrants.
This trend should be stopped, and reversed with a policy of active
support for new farmers and Council owned farm tenancies.
These are a source of conflict where the charter
holder stands on an ancient right to constrain, or demand fees
from, any market within six and two-thirds miles of the location
of the charter market. In most circumstances the prospective farmers'
market operator comes to an agreement with the charter holder
and pays over a license fee. However, the amount is entirely within
the gift of charter-holder. FARMA calls for a review of the legislation
that upholds charter rights with a view to its amendment to favour
Certified farmers' markets.
4.4 Are there obstacles hindering the successful
business of existing market operators and traders?
4.4.1 FARMA's researches at farmers' markets
show that signage is the most important means of reminding and
telling potential customers that the market is operating, and
its location. Local authorities' present stance on temporary signage
is damaging farmers' markets across the country and needs to be
4.4.2 Current planning guidelines regarding temporary
events is hindering the development of farmers' markets in that
they are constrained to being monthly events in the absence of
planning permission to extend the number of days of operation.
FARMA believes that the potential of farmers' markets will not
be realised until the majority are (at least) weekly events. FARMA
recommends a review of planning law to allow Certified farmers'
markets on 60 days of the year.
4.4.3 New legislation regarding alcohol licensing
has had a disproportionate effect on the availability of local
wines and beers at farmers' markets. Market managements have,
in some cases, been able to get personal and premises licences;
some stallholders have resorted to Temporary Events Notices. However,
alcohol is not consumed on the farmers' market premises (other
than samples) and the space occupied by stallholders offering
local wine or beer is small. FARMA recommends a review of the
licensing law to establish appropriate measures for farmers' markets
and other temporary events where alcohol is sold but not consumed
on the premises.
4.4.4 Farmers' markets spring from the community
in which they operate and, at their best, are embedded in the
cultural and political life of the location, and local authority
commitment is key to this.
FARMA recommends that cross-cutting groups are
set up by local authorities to ensure that consumer/market/farmer/stallholder/tourism/other
community voices are heard and work together.
4.5 What has been the impact of specialist
markets, eg continental and farmers' markets, and do such markets
integrate successfully with older markets?
4.5.1 Farmers' markets have revolutionised
the idea of markets, giving them a new lease of life. They have
enabled local communities to engage with their food supply. They
are distinctive markets (supported in this with Certification
of standards) and support the local economy with environmental,
social and health benefits as well as tourism and other income
generators for a town/city. As with market-days of old, they are
places where people meet, there is a dialogue about food and experience
of the seasons in the foods on offer from local farms and producers.
4.5.2 Farmers' markets provide an opportunity
to sell direct and have provided small farms/producers with a
route to survive, at a time of increasing supermarket centralisation.
As a result an embryonic, alternative and localised food sector
4.5.3 Because they are so different, they
generally do not integrate well with older general markets. Certification
requires inspection and constant vigilance. There is no such quality
standard imposed on general markets and the opportunities for
consumer confusionleading to a lack of trust and eventually
the collapse of the marketare great. With few exceptions,
integration experiments have failed; where they have succeeded
the farmers' market has needed its own area in the market and
special identification, along with exceptional vigilance on the
part of the market management. In general, farmers' markets work
better separately located, or operating on different days if in
the same location as the general market.
5. THEIR SOCIAL
5.1 Social effects of farmers' markets
There is evidence from Stroud Farmers' Market,
Gloucestershire and Brigg Farmers' Market, Lincolnshire that a
Certified farmers' market can be instrumental in bringing new
life into a community. In both locations the town centre was in
decline at weekends as people chose to shop at out-of-town supermarkets.
The farmers' markets have been instrumental in bringing people
back into the town centre and the increased footfall has benefited
other town centre businesses. In Brigg, the number of people coming
into town to shop on relevant Saturdays has increased ten-fold
since the farmers' market began.
As many villages, towns and cities do not have any
other readily available "place to meet", farmers' markets
have an important role in providing a focal point and enabling
social interaction. Similarlyrecognising that farming can
be isolated workfarmers attending as stallholders have
been able to develop networks in the farming and general community
previously not easily available, which has supported their well-being.
As the farmers' markets spring from the community,
their success is a useful indicator of the health of a community
in its support of the initiative. Not all farmers' markets are
successful; perhaps as many as one in ten of those that start-up
fail because they do not gain the support of the community in
terms of customers or number of stallholders.
5.2 Economic effect of farmers' markets
FARMA estimates that across the UK, farmers'
markets contribute some £250 million into their local economies
each year. This is multiplied through increased local employment
and use of local services by growing businesses. There are currently
some 10,000 market-days per year, with over 10,000 producers involved
in farmers' markets across 250,000 "stallholder-days".
Farmers' markets are a first-step for entrepreneurs
to start selling foods and crafts, providing the opportunity for
sales alongside market research of new products.
Alongside opportunities for local people to
buy locally produced foods and crafts direct from the producers,
farmers' markets are featured as a tourist attraction in many
locations. Food tourism is a new feature in the UK, made possible
over the past 10 years through the availability of truly local
foods, a product of their location only, at farmers' markets and
5.3 Qualities of a successful market delivering
social and economic benefits
Good locations, particularly highly visible
and well-trafficked town/city centres. Standards, which
unpin and justify the trust put in the concept of "farmers'
market". The standards for farmers' markets have been identified
and Certified by FARMA procedures.
Local partnerships and community support:
In his book, "Farmers' Markets: Success, Failure &
Market Ecology" Garry Stephenson says "Good [farmers']
markets have a pleasant atmosphere, a diversity of high quality
products and close and multifaceted links to their community through
a loyal customer base." Stroud and Taunton farmers' markets
enjoy the support of their local authority/town centre management.
Consultation is frequent and both are engaged in enabling the
farmers' market to remain a focal point for the community.
Good signage, so that locals and tourists
can find the farmers' market easily.
Frequency of the market: Stroud farmers'
market and Taunton farmers' market are examples where the decision
to hold the market weekly has benefited the town, consumers and
stallholders in equal measure.
6.1 Does local government support farmers'
The response must be "mixed", with
some local authorities actively engaged and creating excellent
farmers' markets eg Waverley Borough Council and Chichester. Others
are indifferent or actively hostile. Some urban local authorities
have pulled away from supporting farmers' markets, due to understandable
budget constraints and difficulty justifying support for the rural
There is a need for better dialogue with local authorities
so that the benefits of farmers' markets can be better understood
and, where practical, they are initiated and continued with local
6.2 Advantages and disadvantages of local
authorities having power to operate markets
Local authorities have a key role in integrating
and engaging with the local community; where they support the
farmers' market there is a greater chance that it will succeed.
However, much depends on personality and commitment.
Managing a farmers' market almost always requires weekend working.
It requires an understanding that a farmers' market changes with
the seasons and with the ability of producers to come to market
with things to sell. It is not a "one-stop, once and for
all" process. Where local authority managers have enthusiasm
for farmers' markets, they are a very good influence. Where they
are indifferent, farmers' markets fail or become more like general
markets, with middle-men and imported products.
Commitment to FARMA Certification can help local
authorities to manage markets in that, through independent inspection,
features that do not contribute to the overall health of the market
can be dealt with. Certification also gives local authority managers
a framework and confidence to deal with conflicts.
Local authorities can have a strong enabling
role for other farmers' market operators where they do not manage
the markets themselves. In many ways, handing over the reins to
an expert and committed team outside the local authority can be
liberatingsuch as in Stroud where the farmers' market is
managed by a private company, or in Taunton where it is managed
by a co-operative of the producers.
6.3 Evidence of central government support,
and could it be improved
Central government support for farmers' markets
has been most welcome and valuable. Farmers' markets have formed
part of the strategy for the "reconnection of farmers and
consumers" since the end of FMD. Nick Brown and Lord Whitty,
in their terms as agriculture minister, have written to local
authority chief executives to encourage support for establishing
farmers' markets. The current farmers' market Certification programme
was developed with the support of a DEFRA grant; this will be
joined shortly by a new Producer Verification scheme which has
benefited from a DEFRA grant under the Agricultural Development
Scheme. DEFRA was among the organisations that actively supported
the merger of the National Association of Farmers' Markets and
the Farm Retail Association in 2003.
Central government support is still critical to the
farmers' market movement, particularly through support of the
standards that represent a true farmers' market.
6.4 Could central government make use of farmers'
markets to achieve national goals eg social cohesion, health and
6.4.1 Health and nutrition:
Farmers' markets (and farm shops) will participate
in and support the new Change 4 Life initiative.
Some farm shops are participating in the Healthy
Start voucher scheme but no farmers' markets are doing so (to
our knowledge). In the USA, the "Women Infants & Children
(WIC)" and "Seniors" federal programmes to encourage
low-income families to eat more fresh produce involved farmers'
markets heavily. FARMA would welcome a discussion about linking
Healthy Start with farmers' markets in the UK.
Direct sales from the producer enable people
to buy food that is fresh, top quality and which has flavour.
The short food chain from farm to consumer means that there is
less time in transit, the food can be harvested when ripe and
varieties can be grown for flavour, not for its ability to survive
storage and transit. Such food deserves to be promoted by any
means possible and FARMA would welcome suggestions for linkages
in existing and future government programmes.
Moseley farmers' market in Birmingham provides
a good illustration of how farmers' markets can be an instrument
in improving communities and fostering social cohesion. The farmers'
market was established by Moseley Neighbourhood Forum (supported
by Birmingham City Council) and is a social enterprise (Community
Interest Company) with all proceeds from market stall fees ploughed
back into community projects. The market itself is well-supported
with some 50 stalls each month. Kings Norton, also in Birmingham,
operates on similar principles.
As has been established, farmers' markets need
the support of large elements of their community if they are to
succeed. Brigg, Lincolnshire and Stroud, Gloucestershire have
been cited as examples where this has happened and benefited uderused
town centres. However, we would urge caution in considering that
farmers' markets will always succeed in difficult social and economic
7. PLANNING AND
7.1 Do local and national planning regulations
support or hinder the development of farmers' markets?
The restriction on temporary events has been
referred to earlier; it is a barrier to the development of weekly
or more frequent farmers' markets. Restrictions on signage likewise
have been discussed earlier. There are good examples internationally
of local and national regulations that support farmers' markets
and their development.
In California, USA, certification of farmers' markets
and verification of producers through a state-wide programme backed
by legislation has led to high levels of consumer trust in Certified
farmers' markets and promoted the rapid development of farmers'
markets. Compared to the UK, California has double the number
of farmers' markets per head of population.
In Italy, the Ministry for Agricultural, Food &
Forestry Policies issued a decree in 2007 to control and define
markets reserved for direct selling by farmers, with licensing
of towns to create a network of 400-500 farmers' markets by 2010.
7.2 Do Licensing Regulations support or hinder
the development of farmers' markets?
The problems created by the introduction of
new licensing laws in November 2005 have been discussed earlier.
Their impact has been disproportionate on farmers' markets and
other small businesses where alcohol sales form a small part of
3 FARMA standards for farmers' markets insist that
all food producers are compliant with all current food and food
hygiene regulations. Back