Farmers Market Permit Act SB3838 Sen. Koehler

Because of Illinois’ regulatory framework, it is more complicated and more expensive for farm selling meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy to sell at a farmers market than it is to sell wholesale to a grocery store or restaurant. Selling to a restaurant requires a $50 license from Dept of Ag. Selling at a farmers market requires a permit from a local health department that may cost $400, and is often required in every county in which a farmer vends.

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Current regulations are not consistent or scale appropriate for farmers

In many counties, farmers that wish to sell their own meat, eggs, dairy, and other pre-packaged frozen foods at a farmers market must obtain some variation of a “temporary” or “seasonal” permit from their local health department.

The temporary and seasonal permits are often geared towards concession stands and mobile food vendors preparing food at fairs and festivals and are not scale appropriate for small farms– often requiring farms to have running water, handwashing stations, and bathroom agreements even though they are not preparing food on site. Furthermore, the regulations for these permits are different in each county– making it difficult for farmers to navigate.

Current system of fees is not economical for farmers

The fees for a temporary or seasonal permit can range from 0-$400. Farmers that vend in multiple counties must pay the fee in every county in which they vend. The fees quickly pose an economical challenge for beginning farms.

The current regulatory framework and fees prevents farmers from reaching new customers, prevents sales across county lines, and prevents Illinois shoppers from access to more fresh, local food. 

Read Farmer Ed Dubrick’s Story Here

Read our Landscape Analysis Here

Download the Bill Fact Sheet Here

What does this bill do?

  • Creates a “Farmers Market Permit” with standardized and scale-appropriate regulations for health departments to use if they choose to regulate farmers who sell meat, dairy, and refrigerated foods at farmers markets.
  • Protects public safety by providing local health departments with authority to issue the Farmers Market Permit, inspect farmers, and issue penalties if the permit is not followed.
  • Caps the “Farmers Market Permit” at $175 with a 10% increase for inflation ever 3 years , enabling farmers to economically sell at multiple markets. Farmers must apply in every county in which they vend. 
  • Brings more egg vendors to farmers market by removing duplicative licensing and expensive retail fees around eggs that have already been inspected and approved by the Illinois Department of Egg.

What it does not do:

  • Does NOT conflict with issues of local control. As farmers are selling across county lines and have no legal pathway to change fees or permitting processes outside of their county, this is a state-level issue.
  • Does NOT prevent counties from continuing to issue Temporary Event permits for the sale of meat, eggs, dairy, and other refrigerated foods outside of a farmers market. The Farmers Market Permit is incredibly narrow in scope and only applies to sales by farmers at farmers markets.
  • Does NOT allow farmers to sell products that have not been inspected by state or local authorities (such as raw milk or uninspected meat). 
  • Does NOT require local health departments to issue this permit. Counties that do not currently issue permits for sales at farmers markets may continue to do so. 
  • Does not impose economic hardship on local health departments. Fees from farmers selling meat, eggs, dairy, and refrigerated foods at farmers markets do not make up a significant portion of a county budget and the fee cap is generous.

Who will benefit?

  • Small meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy farmers who depend on direct-to-customer sales at farmers markets and on their farms.
  • Illinois farmers market shoppers, who will have greater access to Illinois-raised meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products 

Equity Impact:

Farms that sell at farmers markets are more likely to be new and beginning, BIPOC, and LGBTQ farms. Supporting these small direct-market farms gives them greater opportunity to thrive and to serve their communities and customers.

Economic Impact:

The Farmers Market Permit Act improves the viability of small farms in Illinois and increases access to local products, bringing more tax revenue to the state and keeping more food dollars circulating in the Illinois economy instead of flowing out of state. 

Who supports this bill:

Illinois Environmental Council

Illinois Farm Bureau

Illinois Farmers Market Association

Illinois Stewardship Alliance