Local Food Legislative Package Signed into Law, Expanding Farmers Market Opportunities for 2018

New Public Acts will remove barriers to the production and sale of local food

Farmers markets throughout Illinois will be able to offer even greater variety beginning January 1, 2018 thanks to a pair of local food bills that have now both been signed into law by Governor Rauner.

The Local Food Business Opportunities Act (HB2820), sponsored by State Representative Steven Andersson (R-Geneva) and State Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria) was signed by Governor Rauner creating greater statewide consistency in certain sanitation rules at farmers markets.

Liz Moran Stelk, Executive Director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, the lead organization that championed these bills, said, “This pair of bills will help make farmers markets even more of a one-stop shop for all kinds of groceries. Thanks to the legislature and Governor Rauner, families will have easier access to buy fresh food from local farmers and keep their dollars in the community.”

Janie Maxwell, Executive Director of the Illinois Farmers Market Association said, “This legislation is key to removing barriers for farmers selling at farmers markets and provides consistent rules and practices across the state.  This legislation removes costly barriers when a vendor/farmer sells in multiple counties.  Additionally, it will make it easier and less expensive for farmers to expand the products they offer and the number of markets where they sell their products.”

Sarah Simeziane, Champaign Farmers Market Manager on staff at The Land Connection, agreed, saying, “The opportunities this legislation will open up for small farms and small farmers’ markets is incredibly exciting. Our farmers will now have more affordable and manageable options available to them to sell meat, eggs, and dairy. Not only will this boost their own sales, but it will bring more diversity of products to market. At the Champaign Farmers’ Market, for example, this will be an absolute game changer for both farmers and consumers.”

Chad Summers of Oak Tree Organic Farm sells pastured pork to a customer at the Old Capitol Farmers Market in Springfield

While the law allows farmers a choice of refrigeration equipment, removing a cost-barrier, it also mandates that food be kept properly chilled.

Representative Andersson said, “Farmer’s markets are an essential part of communities throughout the state. This new law will help solve some of the challenges that vendors face, to help keep these markets successful and vibrant for both vendors and residents in the state.”

The Illinois Food Freedom Act (HB3063), sponsored by State Representative Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) and State Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria), was signed into law earlier this summer. This law will greatly expand the types of homemade foods that may be sold at the farmers market or from farms, giving farmers options for processing and selling extra produce, reducing food waste, encouraging more small food business start-ups, and expanding choice for farmers market shoppers.

Jerry Jimenez of Darn Hot Peppers sells jams, jellies, and salsas at the Old Capitol Farmers Market in Springfield made with locally grown hot peppers from their farm. Thanks to the Food Freedom Bill, more farmers and entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to sell products like these without having to purchase or rent space in an expensive commercial. Food sanitation licensing and proper labeling are still required.