The National Farmers’ Retail & Markets Association (FARMA) welcomes the Government’s stated intention to support street, covered and farmers’ markets with the establishment of a Working Group involving senior officials from many government departments, the Food Standards Agency and the Local Government Association with representation from the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA), the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF), the Association of Town Centre Managers (ATCM) and FARMA.
The first meeting of the Working Group is planned for later this autumn. For the first time, markets and farmers’ markets will have a forum and a voice across government, with the Working Group reporting to Local Government Minister, Rosie Winterton, and Minister for Food, Jim Fitzpatrick. Already identified as issues are planning and licensing laws, both of which affect farmers’ markets disproportionately.
The role of markets and farmers’ markets in the retail mix of town and city centres is acknowledged for bringing good food and new footfall while providing opportunities for low-cost business start-ups and flexible employment. The Government’s statement also suggests that markets and farmers’ markets could be a vehicle for promoting healthy eating, based on 5-a-day; and valuable for tourism.
Gareth Jones, FARMA’s managing agent said: ’Farmers’ markets were acknowledged in the Communities and Local Government Select Committee report, published in the summer and the basis of today’s statements, as the biggest success story of markets in recent decades. However, their success is fragile, built on the enthusiasm and hard work of thousands of individuals as market organisers, managers and stallholders, sometimes in the face of unhelpful local authorities.’
’If local authorities can now be persuaded to put in infrastructure for markets and farmers’ markets and embrace them as a vital part of the community, life in our towns and villages will be the richer for it. We are very proud of FARMA Certified farmers’ markets and are pleased that there is acknowledgement in the Government’s response to the Select Committee report that farmers’ markets are a distinct kind of outlet whose identity and integrity must be upheld. With support we can increase the ability of farmers’ markets to deliver all their benefits, to customers and the community as a whole.’