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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

    Restrictions on farmers markets eased by governor

    ISU Extension and Outreach
    ISU Extension and Outreach
    ISU Extension and Outreach reliable information about agriculture, 4H programs, food and nutrition, and family sciences. ISU Extension and Outreach has an office in Muscatine.

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    Farmers markets in Iowa now have more options for what they can sell this year but still must work to keep shoppers and vendors safe.

    AMES, Iowa – Governor Kim Reynolds has modified the state’s Public Health Emergency Declaration as it pertains to farmers markets.

    The governor’s June 10, 2020, proclamation allows farmers markets to continue operating, but previous restrictions have been modified. The modifications are located on page four of the June 10 proclamation.

    With this proclamation, the Governor has lifted previous restrictions on the type of items that can be sold at farmers markets, which now allows for crafts and other items to be sold that did not fit within the “food and farm products” categories. Additionally, all restrictions (including on seating and activities) are removed, provided that markets ensure at least six feet of physical distance between intentional groups (like a family) and individuals, as well as implement reasonable measures to ensure social distancing. The proclamation asks for continued implementation of hygienic practices and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. (Please see the link to read the full text.)

    Paul Ovrom, with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, said: “Local regulations and stipulations may be in place on where your market takes place. Customers and vendors need to check with local authorities about those stipulations and any changes that might occur. Additionally, markets can continue to have their own rules that can continue as is or be modified as the market season progresses to ensure the safety of vendors and customers. But, at the state level, restrictions have been eased to a large extent.”

    Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, along with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, recently put together several publications to help Iowans understand the requirements and additional best practices that should be followed.

    Guidance for Iowa Farmers Markets During COVID-19” is a one-page document that provides an easy-to-follow, bulleted list of what is required and expected.

    Farmers Market and U-Pick Best Practices and Regulations,”  published by ISU Extension and Outreach, is a seven-page document that provides food safety best practices and examples of the regulations surrounding distribution and shipping of food products in Iowa. Information is available on how to keep employees and visitors healthy, hygiene and cleaning, how farmers markets can communicate their current practices with the public, and various alternatives for buying and selling farm and food products.

    “The best practices guide helps operators of those markets continue to do business in ways that reduce exposure and promote healthy food sales,” said Angela Shaw, food safety state specialist and associate professor in the ISU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

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