Safety Protocols at the Farmers Market in Sacramento, California

Whether you choose a farmer's market or a grocery store, Dr. Placer County health officer Amy Sisson emphasizes the importance of maintaining a distance of six feet. Last year, the pandemic forced some farmers' markets to close temporarily during the state lockdown. While many markets reopened after establishing security protocols, others remained closed and have not yet reopened.

Some markets saw attendance drop as distancing requirements and other restrictions led to long queues, increased waiting times and fewer transactions, farmers reported. To protect themselves from legal issues, markets must be proactive in creating a safe environment and demonstrate that safety procedures are being followed. This helps the market to defend itself against complaints of negligence, if necessary. In addition, clear rules and procedures can demonstrate that the agricultural market measures all vendors and circumstances based on clear and defined points of reference. For maximum transparency and efficiency, many markets may choose to describe the appeal process if an applicant disagrees with a supplier selection decision.

When an agricultural market is clear about the eligibility criteria it uses, it is in a better position to defend the decisions that are made on that basis. Vendors at the Capitol Mall farmers market, in downtown Sacramento, say they haven't yet seen the crowd of people having lunch before COVID, who kept the seasonal market packed. A location restriction could include limiting the voice to a designated area of the market or creating a buffer zone where the speakers cannot interfere with the entry and exit of customers from the market. It is best to consult with a lawyer to find out if the characteristics of your farmers market would be considered more similar to those of a town square or a shopping center. Before, people not only went to the farmer's market, but they also shopped inside the Ferry Building. Attendance at the farmers market may have increased, but Santa Barbara County farmer and egg producer Steve Zaritsky said that people who come now are a different audience.

With safety procedures in place and evidence that those procedures are being followed, the agricultural market is better able to defend itself. In conclusion, it is essential for farmers markets to establish safety protocols in order to protect themselves from legal issues. Clear rules and procedures must be communicated to suppliers on a regular basis and an appeal process should be described for applicants who disagree with supplier selection decisions. Markets should also consult an attorney about what would constitute reasonable restrictions in time, place and form for their market.

Tricia Sweetman
Tricia Sweetman

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