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Minister of State Sargent Launches Good Practice Standard for Farmers' Markets

Mr. Trevor Sargent T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for Food and Horticulture today launched a Good Practice Standard and Flag for Farmers' Markets.  The pilot Standard, which is voluntary, will be denoted by a Flag, which participating markets may display and which the Minister unveiled in the Food Market at BLOOM 2009 today.

Farmers Markets signing up to the Good Practice Standard will undertake to hold markets regularly; to source a substantial proportion, ideally 50%, of local produce from the county or neighbouring counties; to accommodate seasonal and local garden/allotment produce and to comply with food safety/labelling rules and criteria on good governance.

The Minister said that he had established an Advisory Group to make recommendations on guidelines in response to criticism of a lack of common standards in markets. He was pleased that over 30 submissions had been made in the public consultation undertaken by the Group. His intention was that the Good Practice Standard would give consumers more confidence in what markets stand for and provide producers with a good route to market and opportunity to deal directly with consumers.

"Farmers' Markets are a very good opportunity for local producers to find a route to market and have been the beginning of many a food success story. They play a crucial role in developing and maintaining the all-important chain of trust and value that links the farmer and the consumer. Farmers' Markets provide an enhanced level of choice for consumers and are an ideal opportunity for them to sample locally produced quality foods characterised by individuality and to meet first hand with those who have worked so hard to create it. There is also a notable knock on effect for local businesses and the community in general".

Minister Sargent thanked the members of the group, representative of the main stakeholders and Bord Bia, for making their expertise and experience available.  The application process will commence on June 15th and application forms will be available on-line from Bord Bia and the Department from this date.  The closing date for the first round of applications will be July 31st 2009. A non-refundable application fee of €50 will be required to cover administrative costs. Successful applicants will receive certification and may apply for the Flag whose logo features a range of food produce to capture the best of what Farmers' Markets have to offer.

Note for Editors

One of the Government's commitments under the Programme for Government is to encourage more direct selling between farmers and consumers by restoring and promoting farm shops and a national network of farmers' markets and country markets.  Minister of State Sargent established a group, representative of the main stakeholders, to examine and draw up best practice guidelines with the aim of increasing the profile and level of sales of farm produce at Farmers' Markets.  The Group comprised Ms. Caroline Robinson, Market Stallholder and former Chairperson, Irish Food Market Traders Association, Ms. Jackie Spillane, CoCo Markets, Mr. JJ Kavanagh, Irish Farmers Association, Ms. Patricia Oliver, An Taisce, Mr. William Coventry, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ms. Stephanie Moe, Bord Bia and Ms. Marian Byrne, Head of Food Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Date Released: 29 May 2009