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Farmers Markets

Farmers Market Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What foods are considered potentially hazardous?
A: Potentially hazardous foods require licensing before selling at farmers' markets. These foods include cut melon, raw seed sprouts, garlic in oil preserves, a food of animal origin that is raw or heated, and a food of plant origin that is heat-treated. Contact your local county sanitarian for more information on licensing requirements.

Q: Do vendors need a special license to sell at farmers' markets?
A: In general, vendors do not need a special license if they are selling raw and unprocessed farm products such as fruits and vegetables, baked goods, or fruit preserves. To learn more about health and safety regulations applying to farmers' markets, contact your county sanitarian.

Q: Can vendors with processed vegetables sell at farmers' markets?
A: Any products that include processing of the vegetables (canning, cooking, preserving, peeling, dicing, cutting, etc.) must be approved through the county sanitarian and licensed by the state health department before being sold to the public.


Q: Can vendors sell baked goods at farmers' markets?
A: Baked goods that are NOT potentially hazardous foods subject to spoilage (breads, pastries, cookies, etc.) may be sold at farmers' markets without a license. Baked goods that require refrigeration (cream pies, cream filled pastries, cheesecakes, custard pies, etc.) are considered potentially hazardous and may NOT be sold at farmers' markets. With any questions, contact your county sanitarian.


Q: What do vendors have to do to sell fresh meat at farmers' markets?
A: Meat sellers who have processed their meat in a state inspected facility must then apply to the county sanitarian for a retail meat market license. Additional licensing may be required by the Montana Department of Livestock's Meat & Poultry Inspection Bureau depending on the situation, (406) 444-5202.


Q: How can vendors sell farm fresh eggs at farmers' markets?
A: Eggs are required to be kept under refrigeration at 45 degrees or cooler, and cannot be sold in reused cartons. Vendors are encouraged to contact their county sanitarian and the Montana Department of Livestock's Milk & Egg Inspection Bureau, (406) 444-2043.

Q: Can vendors sell jelly at farmers' markets? A: A license is not required to sell fruit or berry jams, jellies, compotes, fruit butters, fruit syrups, marmalades, or similar products at farmers' markets. With any questions, contact your county sanitarian.


Q: What vendors can claim that their products are organic at farmers' markets?

A: To claim products as "organic," the products must have been grown and handled according to national organic standards. Most operations' products must be "certified" organic before organic claims can be made. Contact the Montana Department of Agriculture's Organic Certification Program with questions, (406) 444-3730.

Q: Are there any special requirements for vendors selling products by weight at farmers' markets?
A: If vendors are selling products by weight, the scales used must be licensed and inspected annually by the Bureau of Weights & Measures, (406) 841-2240.





Steph Hystad
Montana Department of Agriculture
302 North Roberts
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-5425
E-mail: shystad@mt.gov
Fax: (406) 444-9442


Published: Wed May 11 12:03:00 MDT 2011.
Last Modified: Thu Sep 08 15:35:38 MDT 2016