Why Farm Inspections?
The Old Capitol Farmers Market (“Market”) is committed to a producer-only policy in order to foster the growth of local farms and businesses and showcase products that are grown, raised, gathered, and hand-crafted in Illinois. When products are purchased wholesale from auctions, grocers, distributors, or processors, it undercuts the value and hard work that small farms and businesses surrounding Springfield have dedicated to raising their products, and jeopardizes their ability to sell those products at a fair price. To insure the integrity of our “Producer-Only” policy, farm inspections and visits are done to provide evidence to the Market Manager that (1) the products sold at the Market are grown by the vendor on his/her designated property and (2) to familiarize market staff with the excellent operations we represent as voices of the Old Capitol Farmers Market. Inspections will not be used as a tool to evaluate sustainability practices and all inspection results will remain confidential.
Who is inspected?
All growers are subject to a one-time farm inspection completed by the Market Manager and/or inspection team. A grower is defined as:
“a vendor actively involved and invested in the planting, growing, raising, and harvesting of agricultural products. This definition includes ranchers and dairy farmers. Agricultural products are fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, honey, eggs, fresh herbs, flowers, and any meat, dairy, or other agricultural product that is produced on farm and sold by that farm.”
Prepared food vendors, complimentary vendors, and artisans are not subject to farm inspections but may be subject to other rules and regulations to insure the integrity of the Producer-Only Market rule.
Overview of Inspection Policy
New growers: All new growers to Old Capitol Farmers Market must have an inspection completed by the Market Manager and/or inspection team and must pay a one-time $80 inspection fee. Inspections will be conducted over the course of the market at the discretion of the Market Manager. The Market Manager will schedule the inspections that must be completed in a 30-day time frame. Non-compliance will result in forfeiture of your right to participate in the market. Nothing learned on the farm including production practices, proprietary information, and potential rules violations will be revealed to anyone other than market management.
Existing growers: Existing vendors may be subject to an inspection by the Market Manager and/or inspection team on a rotating basis throughout the season. If an existing grower adds a new line/product, that line will need to be inspected before bringing it to Market. There are no additional charges for these inspections. Vendors who refuse inspections will not be able to participate in the Market and may forfeit their space without refund.
Farm Visits and Inspections
All inspections will be announced and scheduled in advance with the grower. The grower must provide any help necessary to thoroughly document the property being inspected and the products brought to market. All inspectors will use the same Inspection Report form for each inspection. The Old Capitol Farmers Market Inspection Report form will be sent prior to inspection.
The inspection report includes the following subsections:
(1) Property Verification
(2) Farm Information
(3) Resale Information
(4) Farm Product List and Additional Products
(5A) Prepared Foods, Value-Added Products, etc.
(5B) Food Preparation Product Information
(7) Inspection Review & Follow-up.
During the inspection, the inspector(s) will tour the farm(s) and facilities asking questions and completing the Inspection Report form. Vegetable growers will be asked to provide seed purchase and transplant receipts.
Livestock operations will be subject to the same Inspection Report as vegetable producers, with some minor modifications. Producers will need to be able to verify that they have raised the meat for 75% of its weight. This may include showing receipts if they purchased feeder animals, baby chicks, etc. If they birthed the animals, they need to be able to show records. Feed receipts or other records of vet care, etc. may be requested. Inspectors will evaluate pastures and ask for records regarding seeding, maintenance, and harvest of pastures, as well as the purchase of hay and straw (if necessary).
As all meat must be processed at a state or federally-licensed facility, producers will be asked to share their processor info on the ManageMyMarket application and will also be asked to share their processing receipts during the inspection. If the Market Manager and/or inspection team has any suspicions, the processors will be contacted and weekly inventory inspections of growers coolers/freezers may be conducted to ensure that what producers are bringing to market is in-line with the animals raised/processing receipts/other records.
Inspection Results and Disciplinary Action
If the producer-only veracity is called into question for any product, the grower will be asked to cease the sales of those products for the remainder of the season and a written warning will be issued. If sales continue, the grower will be asked to leave the market without refund for the remainder of the season. If a grower believes the inspection results were incorrect, they may contact the Market Manager and request a hearing before the Market Advisory Committee.
The grower checklist: “What to expect when we’re inspecting”
In order to expedite the inspection process, please complete the form below and have all of the following applicable items on hand at the beginning of your inspection.
- A farm map (required): A farm map identifying locations of all crops and livestock and directions to the farm(s) will be required prior to the inspection. The farm map will need to include each field outlined with crop plantings (include greenhouses, high tunnels, and storage and handling facilities) and pastures (include feed and grain storage and livestock housing facilities).
- Seed purchase, transplant, or plug receipts for all annual vegetables, fruits, and flowers listed on your ManageMyMarket market application
- Livestock birth records or other records of vet care for all livestock listed on your ManageMyMarket application
- Livestock purchase receipts
- Processor receipts
- Pasture maintenance records (seeds, fertility, harvest yields)