Forum Focuses on Requirements for Farmer to Consumer Sales
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee’s 4th Annual Farmers Market Forum will be held March 31 at the Smith County Agriculture Complex in Carthage. The event’s focus is opportunities and requirements for producers who plan to sell their farm products directly to the consumer.
The event is free of charge, sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Registration for the day’s program, which includes lunch, opens at 8:30 a.m. The program begins at 9 a.m. and concludes at 4:30 p.m.
“When a producer sells a product right off the farm or at a local farmers market — and especially when he adds value to that product before he sells it — there’s an opportunity to grab a much bigger piece of the food dollar than he gets when those products are processed, packaged and marketed by other people,” says Laura Fortune, farmers market specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. “It’s a strategy that’s becoming more attractive and potentially profitable to farmers as consumers become more interested in buying local foods from farmers they know.
“There are requirements and standards, however, that every producer needs to know and follow to make his endeavors legal and safe, whether that product is sold at the farm gate, as part of a farmers market or to a retail establishment,” says Fortune. “This forum will address all the regulatory issues that a producer will certainly have to navigate in order to successfully process, package, market and sell his products straight to a consumer or retail outlet.”
The forum will feature several speakers from TDA’s Regulatory Services Division, including John Sanford and Buddy Woodson, administrators for the state’s food and dairy programs, and Bob Williams, administrator for Weights and Measures.
Other speakers include Megan Bruch, U.T. Center for Profitable Agriculture; Peggy Marchetti, Tennessee Farmers Market Association; and Tiffany Mullins, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.
“We want to be sure that producers who come to the forum will get to hear from other farmers who have already gone through the regulatory process and have found success at the other end,” says Fortune. “We’ll have Josh Gunn of Green Hills Farms in Springfield, who has found a good niche market providing grass fed beef to local restaurants and consumers around the South.
“Will Hatcher Wallace from Hatcher Family Dairy will share how they’ve found a great market by processing their own milk and selling straight off the farm to their community and local retail stores.”
Anyone interested in participating in the forum and luncheon is encouraged to pre-register by contacting Laura Fortune at (615) 837-5349 or Laura.Fortune@state.tn.us. For more information about Tennessee farmers markets or farm products, visit www.picktnproducts.org.