How Farmers Markets Dodged a Regulatory Bullet in Pennsylvania

The Keystone State's boom in farmers markets might have gone bust.

Earlier this month the USDA celebrated National Farmers Market Week. When the agency began tracking the number of farmers markets in the United States in 1994, it counted 1,755 such markets around the country. Today that number tops 7,800—an increase of nearly 450 percent in less than two decades.

Consumer interest in farmers markets has similarly exploded across Pennsylvania. According to USDA data, there are more than 250 farmers markets in the state—about two-dozen of which are located in Philadelphia.

In spite of these great numbers, Pennsylvanians should be grateful to have access to any farmers markets at all this year. That’s because the direct-to-consumer bounty farmers provide might have all but disappeared. And though drought concerns persist in some parts of Pennsylvania, the specter of a summer with fewer farmers selling less produce at markets in the state was due not to Mother Nature but—instead—to state legislators and regulators.

Many farmers and consumers feared a newly enacted state law, Act 106, would jeopardize Pennsylvania’s farmers markets. While some applauded the Act for having replaced an often-confusing patchwork of local farmers market regulations with a uniform statewide law, Act 106 meant farmers would have to obtain retail food licenses, and many feared they would be required to purchase costly handwashing sinks (rather than sharing a sanitary sink with other vendors) and mechanized cooling devices (rather than chilling food safely using ice).

Last fall, Pennsylvania members and supporters of Keep Food Legal, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting food freedom—the right to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat, and drink the foods of one’s own choosing—expressed their concerns about Act 106’s potential impact on farmers markets in the state. Keep Food Legal commissioned the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic to write a report on the effects of Act 106 (the relevant portions of which were codified into state law as Chapter 57) on farmers markets in Pennsylvania, and to compare the new requirements to similar regulations in nine other states around the country.

The report, Pennsylvania’s Chapter 57 and Its Effects on Farmers Markets, issued last week by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, contains both good news and several suggested ways Pennsylvania and other states can improve the ways they regulate farmers markets. On the bright side, the report concludes that Pennsylvania’s regulation of farmers markets compares favorably to regulatory approaches in the nine other states that were part of the Clinic’s research. It notes that some of the perceived problems with Act 106 were in fact overblown, due to what appears to have been an initial failure on the part of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to educate farmers, vendors, market managers, and local health departments about the law.

The report recommends that Pennsylvania and other states mitigate similar problems by providing accessible explanations of laws and regulations affecting farmers markets at the earliest possible point in time. The report also recommends several ways Pennsylvania and others states can lessen the regulatory burden on farmers markets more generally so as to maximize the satisfaction of farmers and consumers without sacrificing food safety.

For example, the report urges states to replace process-driven regulations—which require a farmer or vendor to follow particular steps—with results-driven regulations that simply require food to be safe. If a farmer can keep meat at a mandated temperature using an ice chest, there is no reason to require her to purchase an expensive refrigerator and generator to achieve the same level of food safety at a much higher cost. Results-driven regulations like these foster the ability of farmers to innovate so long as they meet established food-safety outcomes, helping them to uncover and employ cost-effective procedures that produce the same or better results.

When USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Joani Walsh appeared at West Philadelphia’s Clark Park Farmers Market earlier this month, she applauded it and the city’s other renowned farmers markets as “groundbreaking” and “exciting” examples for the rest of the nation.

Walsh is right. The city’s markets are certainly a great example of the explosion of fresh produce choices available to consumers around the country.

But, as our new report makes clear, celebrating America’s farmers means more than simply buying their products. It also means being vigilant to ensure that farmers are not hamstrung by needless, senseless, and costly regulations.

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  • Ted S.||

    1th!

    And thanks for the more subtle self-promotion, as opposed to constantly talking about some crappy book.

  • AlmightyJB||

    What book are you talking about?

  • Mr Whipple||

    As much of a regulatory hell NJ is, I must say, they don't fuck with the farmers that sell directly to the public. In fact, people from PA come to NJ to buy unpasteurized apple cider because it is illegal to sell it in PA.

  • AlmightyJB||

  • John||

    You think Obama won't do the same thing? No one is going to stand around and watch Syria turn into a failed state and let how much nerve gas and such go onto the black market.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Oh he might but he won't be compared to Bush/Hitler if he does it. Romney will be just for saying it. Not sure if you noticed but there is a double standard when it comes to these kind of things. This is the kind of stuff that the left can use to get their idiot parrots frothing at the mouth. Something which they seem to be failing at going into this election.

  • John||

    Obama could nuke the Canadians and the press would give him a pass. And the left is going to get their idiot up no matter what. Beyond that, Obama has been very hawkish on Syria. If he wants to make an issue of this, he would have to say he will never go into Syria, which he won't do.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The problem is that he doesn't have to say what his stance is on any issue. He just has to be able the lob softball quesions abouthow he got to be so wonderful. Was shocked to see that recent Newsweek cover though. I'm wondering if they're just trying to fire up the left with that.

  • John||

    People can see what is happening. It is not like they don't know that he already went to war in Syria and continues to be at war in Afghanistan. And further most people would want the President to go in and secure Syria's chemical weapons.

  • ||

    most people would want the President to go in and secure Syria's chemical weapons.

    Do people have ANY idea how poor a weapon gas is? It's easier to kill people with a BB gun than to do it with gas. You cannot control it. Dispersal patterns are extremely unpredictable. Moving it is extremely difficult. Concealing it is hard.

    Much ado about nothing.

  • John||

    Gas is terrible weapon because it kills so indiscriminately. It is lousy if you want to gain a military advantage because it kills your people too and makes maneuver impossible.

    It is however great if you want to just kill and terrorize large numbers of people. It killed thousands of Kurds. A good gas attack in an American city would kill in the thousands.

  • ||

    A good gas attack in an American city would kill in the thousands.

    Nonsense. To kill "thousands" with gas would require absolutely PERFECT atmospheric conditions. A delivery system capable of employing a very large weapon on a very concentrated group of people, like a stadium. The likelihood that terrorists could pull that off are extremely slim. There are far easier ways to kill people than getting spun up about chemical weapons.

    This is political hype, who's purpose is to get politicians elected by people without the capability to reason.

  • wareagle||

    Do people have ANY idea how poor a weapon gas is?

    efficiency is immaterial. Just show folks pics of the Kurds whom Saddam gassed and the old saw about the worth of pictures is proven.

  • ||

    efficiency is immaterial. Just show folks pics of the Kurds whom Saddam gassed and the old saw about the worth of pictures is proven.

    Agreed, but my point was, if people actually knew anything about it, it would be way, way down at the bottom of things to fear. Like, somewhere below getting eaten by a Tiger in Manhattan. (Yes, I'm being facetious, but not by a lot.)

  • wareagle||

    fear is a powerful political weapon, mostly because it is based on a large chunk of the public being too lazy or too apathetic to do its own research on anything.

    It's why people get away with shit like the rich not paying their "fair share" and those who want to disarm everyone over a nutjob shooting. Never underestimate the power of the uninformed. And hey, those tigers can be dangerous...just as Roy.

  • John||

    War in Libya not Syria

  • John||

    And for the record I would be very surprised if there are not already SF people on the ground in Syria.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Meh...Obama's been talking and talking about Syria and not done anything. I see no evidence of US SF in Syria.

  • Jerry on the road||

    "Suddenly" we find out that Syria has chemical weapons, even though the conflict has been going on for more than a year. Don't you think the timing is a bit odd?

  • John||

    There is nothing sudden about it. People have known forever they have chemical weapons.

  • ||

    Didn't they get a bunch of their stuff from Saddam before we invaded?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Maybe what we should do John is forbid American women from working and make them stay home and make more babies to be used as cannon fodder in the neocon quest to solve all of the worlds problems militarily. That is the Americans womans primary purpose in life, right? To produce the next generation of world police?

  • John||

    No Women's purpose in life is to collect free birth control and abortions from the government.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I've never understood how enabling uncommitted sex with multiple partners is a "women's" issue.

    The dude that created that meme is a real man of genius.

  • John||

    Yup

  • ||

    I've never understood how enabling uncommitted sex with multiple partners is a "women's" issue.

    I am pretty sure I want to keep that legal...

    Perhaps replace "enabling" with "subsidize".

  • seguin||

    That's only if she stops moving.

  • ||

    eh..

    Voters don't cares and no one on the Obama side wants anyone to pay attention to Obama's foreign policy record.

    the antiwar left are in deep deep cryosleep.

    maybe you are thinking of the the 2016 election when the dems hammer Romney over his foreign policy....which will probably be justified.

  • John||

    USDA. The people who brought you kudzoo.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I like kudzu. I like it because it is an excellent thing to drive the point of how a property owner is in no way entitled- at expense of other property owners- to land remaining in any particular situation of existence that is at odds with the natural progression of change.

  • Daryl Davis||

    Government is primarily justified by its capacity to offer us protections that would not, and ought not, be trusted to the private sector alone, including consumer safety protections. The costs of compliance, though, ought be minimized wherever possible; and the cause for regulation must be compelling:

    http://whatdirectdemocracymigh.....egulation/

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    No.

  • sloopyinca||

    Dude! Is your e-mail broken or are you pissed at me?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Oh. No, I ain't mad. I've just been busy as shit this week, and haven't even checked e-mail. I'll go look now.

  • wareagle||

    govt is justified solely by the powers we, the people, give it. Just think if there was a document that clearly spelled out what govt could - and more importantly, could not - do. What would such a thing be called?

  • sloopyinca||

    What would such a thing be called?

    Nobody knows since those things were written like over 100 years ago and stuff.

  • ||

    And it's like hard to read, cause it uses old words.

  • ||

    DIE. IN. A. FIRE.

    And fuck off slaver!

    Oh, and fried chicken?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Government is primarily justified by its capacity to offer us protections that would not, and ought not, be trusted to the private sector alone, including consumer safety protections.

    Fuck

    off.

    And take your spam with you.

  • albo||

    Good timing on this article, as the farmers' market in Harrisburg has been closed for a week because it is a filthy, vermin-riddled hellhole.

    Part of it has opened up again, but few people except for the uninformed and brave have ventured in.

  • John||

    But it is an organic vermin ridden hell hole. Why do you hate the earth albo?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    And if it's that bad it will go out of business, perhaps to be replaced by another with superior management.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    But that's the invisible hand of the free-market system. Insanity!

  • Cytotoxic||

    Hmm...call me a heretic, but this comes close to being something local government should intervene in. Vermin infestation counts as IOF in my books because it affects others around you. It's a public health/safety concern.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Comment from USA Today article about NYC shooting:

    Rudolph Schmidt · Top Commenter · San Francisco, California
    Another maniac enjoying his 2nd Amendment freedom by shooting people. Awesome. I love the "freedom" that guns give us! Nothing says "freedom" like looking over your shoulder during a visit to NYC and wondering if you're going to get shot. Nothing says "freedom" like going to school and wondering where you can escape if a lunatic starts shooting up the room with a military-grade assault rifle. Nothing says "freedom" like opting to stay at home to watch a movie rather than enjoy a night at the theater because some nut with hurt feelings but lots of guns might take it out on a bunch of innocent friends and families.

    We will never be FREE of this gun violence until all guns are banned, confiscated, and the 2nd Amendment overturned. Enough is enough already.

    I just had to share it.

  • Brutus||

    It's not like the Second Amendment is the only one the Left wants to wipe its feet on.

  • wareagle||

    no but it is the one that gives the left its best opportunity to be fully unhinged for all to see.

  • InlineSkate||

    Want to really make them mad? Tell them if you disregard the 2nd why regard the 1st or any other and watch them scramble.

  • ||

    for those who wonder what kind of shit an officer needs to do to erase his "qualified immunity protection"...

    well...
    CIVIL RIGHTS ACT LAWSUIT: GENUINE ISSUE OF MATERIAL FACT EXISTS AS TO WHETHER USE OF PEPPER SPRAY AND BATON AGAINST BROCCOLI- AND TOMATO- EATING TRAFFIC DETAINEE WHO WAS A JACKASS BUT NOT A SAFETY THREAT IN REFUSING TO GET BACK INTO HIS VEHICLE WAS REASONABLE UNDER THE FACTS ALLEGED BY PLAINTIFF – In Young v. County of Los Angeles, 655 F.3d 1156 (9th Cir., Aug. 26, 2011), a three-judge panel concludes that a case must go to trial on fact questions relating to whether a law enforcement officer was reasonable in using pepper spray and a baton on a traffic detainee who refused to get back in his vehicle while the officer wrote a traffic citation.

    Most of the communications in the contact described here were audiotaped. It was mid-morning. Plaintiff Young, a 46-year-old probation officer, was not wearing his seat belt while driving his pickup truck. He was in his workout clothes on his way to the gym. He was eating a snack of broccoli and tomatoes. Deputy Wells was on his police motorcycle when he stopped Young for the seatbelt violation. Young could not initially find the vehicle registration. When Young found the registration, he got out of his truck and walked it back to Deputy Wells.

  • ||

    The deputy took the registration and told Young “just have a seat in the truck.” Young replied, “I don’t feel like sitting in my truck man.” Instead, Young walked past his truck, took a seat on the curb, and resumed eating his snack.

    Deputy Wells unsuccessfully ordered Young several times to get back in his truck, finally telling him that the ticket could not be processed until Young complied. Still not seeing compliance, Deputy Wells walked over behind Young and pepper-sprayed him without warning. Young then stood up, stating “I’m an officer of the law.” Young also complained about the lack of a warning about the pepper spray. Deputy Wells continued to apply pepper spray and replied that he was not required to give a warning.

    ...

    The panel also concludes that Deputy Wells is not entitled to qualified immunity because, under the factual allegations (assuming their truth) and previous case law, a reasonable officer would have known that the uses of pepper spray and baton were not justified.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I would make a snarky comment about cop on cop violence but I know how sensitive you are:)

  • ||

    :)

    here's a good case, establishing that YES, here in WA we have much greater privacy, and it results in suppression of "search incident to arrest" fruits

    read this paragraph...

    again and again, cause it's SWEET

    Both the Fourth Amendment to the federal constitution and article I, section 7 of our state constitution prohibit warrantless searches unless one of the narrow exceptions to the warrant requirement applies.5 See Buelna Valdez, 167 Wn.2d at 768, 771-72; State v. Winterstein, 167 Wn.2d 620, 628, 220 P.3d 1226 (2009). Article I, section 7 provides more extensive privacy protections than the Fourth Amendment and creates “ ‘an almost absolute bar to warrantless arrests, searches, and seizures.’ “ Buelna Valdez, 167 Wn.2d at 772 (quoting State v. Ringer, 100 Wn.2d 686, 690, 674 P.2d 1240 (1983)).

  • sloopyinca||

    Damn, that's hardcore, dunphy. When does his assault and battery trial start so I can keep track of it?

    Oh, that's right. He has not and will not be charged, just as he has not and will not be terminated. This just means he can be sued alongside the tax base of LA County.

    This isn't justice, asshole. He's still not being held to account for his criminal behavior. And that's what you fail to see when you trot out stupid-assed shit like this as an example of cops being held to the same standard as the rest of us are.*

    *I also like how you've resorted to posting stories without the links. It's probably a smart move after I handed your ass to you on that "a cop got a sentence 4-5 times longer than a non-cop would" bullshit claim after officer friendly threw his ex-girlfriend out a second story window.

  • ||

    yawn. the same tired canards, irrelevancies, and also the inevitable YEA BUT

    that's all you have, because all you want to do is argue.

    i could post an article about a cop who got 10 yrs for crime X, and you'd bitch and moan that he didn't get 11

    let the adults discuss real issues, sloopy. go back to doing whatever it is you do to make no positive change whatsoever in the world

  • sloopyinca||

    So you have no problem that he is not being held to account for unlawfully assaulting a person with a chemical agent?

    You see, that is the real issue here, dumbass. Not that he could be sued alongside the city (which is who the plaintiff will continue to go after since they both have the money and also refused to hold the officer accountable). It's that he committed a crime in the course of his job, and that he is not being held responsible in the slightest.

    And if you posted an article about a cop getting 10 years for crime X when a "civilian" would have gotten 11, I doubt I'd comment at all until someone administered smelling salts, as I'd almost certainly faint at the sight of it.

  • ||

    I wonder how pepper spray tastes on vegetable snacks? Might be worth a try.

    It would probably be really good with a side order of...

    ...SUBMIT OR DIE!

  • OldMexican||

    Many farmers and consumers feared a newly enacted state law, Act 106, [which] meant farmers would have to obtain retail food licenses, and many feared they would be required to purchase costly handwashing sinks (rather than sharing a sanitary sink with other vendors) and mechanized cooling devices (rather than chilling food safely using ice).


    Yet another licensing law that purports to keep us safe! Who woulva thunk it???

    Hey, just because it imposes the same rules that brick and mortar stores have to comply with cannot be construed as being an artificial and undue market advantage for the brick and mortar stores! I mean, ztop being zo zynical, you bitchez! God!

  • ||

    hey bloomberg!!!!

    suck it. the constitution matters!

    http://fourthamendment.com/blo.....tb=1pb=1

    (note also the racial disparity stuff is FINE, it's the deterrent crap bloomberg is arguing that isn't)

    ---Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has repeatedly said that the small number of guns found by police officers during stop-and-frisk encounters shows that the program is working as a deterrent, and not that the police are exercising poor judgment in deciding whom to stop, as critics have argued.

    But a federal judge said on Friday said that the city had “no evidence” to make the deterrence claim, and called the argument “too speculative” to be admitted in court by New York City’s expert witness in a class-action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the city’s use of stop-and-frisk tactics.

    The city’s expert appeared to be trying “to justify stops on the basis of their deterrent impact, regardless of their legality,” Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan wrote. ---

  • ||

    It's a Daubert challenge. Floyd v. City of New York, 08 Civ. 1034 (SAS) (S.D.N.Y. August 17, 2012), at 14-15:

    Plaintiffs argue that “Smith’s crime reduction opinions” should be excluded because they “are irrelevant to the questions posed by Plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claims: (1) Do NYPD officers conduct stops-and-frisks without reasonable suspicion?; (2) Do they stop civilians on the basis of their race?” Defendants respond by arguing that Smith’s opinion on the crime deterrent effects of these programs “are indeed relevant, as they represent alternative, race-neutral explanations for the racial patterns in [stops and frisks] which Fagan failed to consider in his analysis of the data” and that “[e]xcluding Smith's opinions would be highly prejudicial by forcing the jury to accept Fagan’s word unchallenged ... when such strong evidence of methodological problems exists.”

  • ||

    Defendants are conflating two different aspects of Smith’s report: his benchmarking critique and his separate conclusion that the NYPD’s programs are a proven strategy to combat crime and increase safety, particularly in minority neighborhoods. As I explained above, Smith’s benchmarking critique challenges Fagan’s finding that Blacks and Hispanics are stopped at disproportionately higher rates; it is a descriptive claim about the nature of racial disparities that is probative of the truth or falsity of plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment claim, and it is therefore admissible.

    However, Smith’s opinions about the deterrence and crime reduction impacts of the NYPD’s programs are inadmissible. Defendants argue that “Smith’s opinion that increased [stop and frisk] activity reduces neighborhood crime provides further evidence for his alternative hypothesis that [stops and frisks] are driven by where the crime occurs rather than by racial discrimination.” ...

  • sloopyinca||

    OK, there's waaaaaaaaaay too much capitalization for this to be the real dunphy. Still a lot of derp, but the capitalization leads me to believe it's a sockpuppet.

    Until i see the word "bigorati," I'm not gonna be convinced.

  • ||

    it's called quoting.

    sorry if i left out the quotes.
    of course if you'd click the link, it would become apparent.

  • sloopyinca||

    Oh, I didn't know it was a quote. Do you not know how to cite someone else's work?

    And why would I need to click the link? It looks like you quoted the entire fucking article, if that's the case.

    Protip: when linking articles, it's best to give the reader a teaser and let the author's work be read on his/her site, or to at least use quotation marks or italics to denote someone else's work.

    hth

  • Cytotoxic||

    Broken link.

  • robc||

    But a federal judge said on Friday said that the city had “no evidence” to make the deterrence claim, and called the argument “too speculative” to be admitted in court

    Entirely off-topic, but I would like to point this out to those arguing with me in the Kelly Thomas thread the other day (not you Dunphy).

  • OldMexican||

    Results-driven regulations like these foster the ability of farmers to innovate so long as they meet established food-safety outcomes, helping them to uncover and employ cost-effective procedures that produce the same or better results.


    I don't know if the report publishers were suggesting the above because of their naivete or with a tongue squarely in the cheek. It is very costly to monitor each seller for results. It is already very costly to keep armies of inspectors and regulators to monitor compliance with environmental laws, which have a few standards (almost all ridiculous), imagine having even more inspectors to monitor that the brocolli being sold does not have salmonella.

    The answer is that the market has always been its own regulator. Consumer choice keeps the less careful sellers out of the market through competition. And there's the issue that regulations reduce the normal alertness of careful consumers by wrapping them in a false-sense-of-security blanket.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    let the adults discuss real issues

    Fuck off, you worthless cunt.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Those portable sinks are nasty. I would rather see the vendors using Purell than washing their hands with nasty stagnent water from porto-potty rental sinks. With minimal handling of the produce, there should be no problems anyway. Customers fondling everything will undo any state mandated hygienic efforts imposed on vendors. Nasty mother fuckers hang around hippy dippy places.

  • Acosmist||

    It, uh, exploded a while ago. Farmers' markets have been huge for decades in PA.

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