How to Become a Certified Producer in order to sell at Certified Farmers' Markets
(it is NOT as complicated as it sounds)
The following information is presented for producers of agricultural products who are considering becoming Certified Producers, in order to participate in Certified Farmers’ Markets. This information is meant to serve as a general informational guide. The Village Farmers Market Association in no way intends for this information to be used as legal reference.
Certified Producer (Producer)—is a grower who sells agricultural products of their own production at Certified Farmers’ Markets (CFM) directly to the consumer. The Producer will be issued a Certified Producer Certificate (Certificate) listing all the products grown by the Producer. The Certificate will be issued after an on-site inspection of the growing grounds by Placer County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures (County Agriculture Department) to verify that all products presented for sale are grown by the Producer. The Certificate will include a list all the products grown by the Producer and must be conspicuously posted on the seller’s booth at the CFM for potential buyers to read. The Certificate is applicable only to the Producer/CFM program and is not required for participation in the Placer GROWN organization or for sales directly from the farm.
Certified Farmers’ Market (CFM)—is a market which is comprised of many Producers at one site offering a variety of agricultural products. Only Certified Producers are allowed to participate in CFM’s. The CFM allows the Producer and consumer to be connected directly across the sales counter. Producers benefit from direct sales to customers, without the expense of a middle man, and consumers are able to purchase fresh produce from the person who grows it. Sales between Producers are not allowed. A Producer cannot buy agricultural products from another producer to sell to the public or anyone else.
For a person intending to become a Producer, a plan should be developed for the agricultural operation. It is the responsibility of the Producer to research the marketability of their products and to determine whether to produce them using conventional or organic farming methods. Please refer to the organic discussion for the specific requirements of that program.
Once the decision has been made regarding what crops that will be grown, the potential Producer should contact the County Agriculture Department to arrange for an on- site inspection of the growing grounds. The crops must be growing in the ground before an appointment for the inspection will be made. This inspection will verify that the products listed on the Certificate are in fact grown by the Producer.
The County Agriculture Department will issue embossed copies of the Certificate which are required to be displayed at the CFM sales location. Certificates issued by the County Agriculture Department are valid for the calendar year in which they are issued and must be renewed annually. Certificates issued by the County Agriculture Department are valid for participation in all CFM’s throughout California.
It is the responsibility of the Producer to contact the appropriate CFM operator(s) and apply for membership to sell at their markets.
The majority of produce is sold by weight. It is the responsibility of the Producer to obtain a scale that is certified for this specific commercial use. It is recommended that the Producer contact the County Agriculture Department which is also responsible for enforcing weights & measures regulations, before purchasing a scale to insure that it is approved for retail sales. Scales must be registered and sealed annually by the County Agriculture Department. The current registration fee for a Producer-owned scale brought into the County Agriculture Department office is $ 10 each. A maximum of 3 scales ($30) per producer are allowed to at this rate. Contact the County Agriculture Department if more than 3 scales need to be registered.
If any product sold at a CFM is pre-packaged in bags or other containers, it must be properly labeled with the Identity of the product, the contact information of the person Responsible for the product, and the Quantity of product in the container. This is known by the acronym--IRQ.
If a Producer plans to produce and sell nursery stock, they will need to obtain a License to Sell Nursery Stock. There are two options for a License to Sell Nursery Stock: the Fee Exempt License for those selling under $1,000 of nursery products annually or the regular License to Sell Nursery Stock which has a minimum annual fee of $125.00. Nursery license applications are available through the County Agriculture Department.
CFM’s are governed by State regulations which are enforced by the County Agriculture Department The respective CFM Boards of Directors have also developed rules to govern the members of their particular markets. It is the responsibility of the Producer to comply with all State and CFM Board rules.
Herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides are all different types of pesticides. Producers’s who use any type of pesticide (including organic pesticides) must obtain a Pesticide Operator Identification Number from the County Agriculture Department prior to the purchase and application of pesticides. Use of all agricultural pesticides must be reported to the County Agriculture Department by the 10th of the month following use.
Organic—is a term that is regulated by the California Organic Foods Act of 2003. In order for someone to use the term organic, they must comply with all the regulations contained in this act. The most basic requirement is for the user of the term organic to be registered with the California Department of Food & Agriculture. If the sales from the organic operation exceed $5,000 per year, then the operation also must be “certified” by a third party organization which ensures that all required aspects of California Organic Foods Act of 2003 have been met. Applications for organic registration are available and processed through the County Agriculture Department. While many organic producers are participants in the CFM program, organic producers selling through venues other than CFM’s do not need to be a Producer, but they must be registered as organic producers.