Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds recently modified the state’s Public Health Emergency Declaration as it pertains to farmers markets. There have been some questions and confusion among the public as to what is required of growers selling food items, vegetables, fruit and other products, and what is required of the public, as consumers visit these outdoor markets held weekly across the state.
The governor’s June 10 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.
Some restrictions lifted
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 the markets ensure at least 6 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. Visit this link to read the full text.
Paul Ovrom, an official with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, says, “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.”
What required, expected
Iowa State University Extension, along with IDALS, 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.
And Farmers Market and U-Pick Best Practices and Regulations, published by ISU Extension, 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 in this publication 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,” says Angela Shaw, food safety state specialist with ISU Extension and associate professor in the ISU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.