Customer Information and FAQ

Explanations of policies and answers to questions that may be of interest to customers.

Is the market producer-only?
How does the market define "local"?
How does the market manage food safety concerns?
Can I bring my dog/cat/pet to the market?
How are market hours determined? Why can't I buy before the opening bell?
Are sales taxes collected at the market?
How are the locations of vendors at the market determined?
Can I use credit/debit cards or EBT cards at the market?
How can I know which vendors will be at a certain market?
What do I do if severe weather threatens the market?
Are all the farmers organic?
How can I apply to join and sell at the market?
Submit questions or comments to the market

Is the market producer-only?
Yes. Market rule 2B clearly states that all products sold at market must be grown, raised, or produced by the seller. Agricultural products must be grown or raised by the vendor. Non-agricultural or artisan products (crafts or baked goods, for example) must be made by the vendor. No resale of any items is allowed. The market's Inspection Committee conducts routine inspections of a number of vendors every year. In addition, targeted inspections are conducted if concerns or complaints are raised about a vendor. Violators of the producer-only rule face expulsion from the market.

How does the market define "local"?
Vendors must be located within a 50 radius of the market, defined by rule 4A.  Exemptions to the radius rule may be granted by the Board of Directors for products that are unique and beneficial to the market.  A detailed description of this area can be found at our CFM Vendor Area Eligibility page.

How does the market manage food safety concerns?
The mission of the Columbia Farmers Market is to provide both the local farmer and consumer a reliable, regulated marketplace for the direct exchange of high quality and safe food. The Market recognizes that food safety is a legitimate and growing concern, and expects its members to manage their farms and businesses in such a way as to minimize the risk of unsafe raw or processed food products being grown or sold to consumers. The market does not require its members to participate in any specific training program in the belief that individual farms and businesses must research, choose, and/or develop management methods that are most appropriate, effective, and efficient for their unique operations.

The market’s proper role is to establish a safe venue for sales, not to ensure the safety of products themselves. Market rules dealing with the sales environment include a prohibition on dogs and other pets (see below), requirements that vendors follow local Health Department and all existing local/state/federal rules for sampling and product handling/storage, and an expectation that vendors maintain a clean and healthful condition within their assigned area. Both vendors and consumers should take personal responsibility for their choices and actions when participating in all aspects of food transactions.

Can I bring my dog/cat/pet to the market?
Market rule 11, guided by local Health Department policies, prohibits the presence of non-service animals within the market's boundaries. While any given pet may be well-behaved, there are significant personal, liability, and food safety concerns with the mingling of live animals and openly displayed food products, and the market is unable to determine or regulate the behavior of every pet. In addition, some customers and children may be bothered or concerned by the presence of pets. Please respect the needs of the market and its customers by leaving your pet at home while visiting the market.

How are market hours determined? Why can't I buy before the opening bell?
The Market is a business and hours are determined by the vendors' needs and the availability of our parking lot space. Market hours are set in our rules and must be followed for safety and as a standard business practice to preserve an orderly and fair marketplace. We welcome customers who enjoy browsing the market early and appreciate your respect of our set hours of operation.

Are sales taxes collected at the market?
Missouri law requires the collection of sales tax on food and other products sold at farmers markets, including city, county, and state taxes relevant to the point of sale. As of January 2011, there is a tax of 4.350% on edible food products and 7.350% on non-food products. EBT and wholesale transactions are non-taxable. Vendors may include the tax in the listed price, remitting the relevant amount afterward, or may add the tax to each transaction at market.

How are the locations of vendor stalls determined?
The ARC location has a set of predefined, numbered stall locations which have been allocated to vendors in accordance with Market rules and regulations. The vendor must pay an annual stall fee in addition to a membership to maintain the same allocated location. Access to these stalls is determined by seniority (continuous years' membership in the market) and vendors may have more than one stall. Each week the market manager determines who will be attending, and assigns any unused stalls to other vendors . The market manager attempts to minimize the movement of vendors, but this cannot always be achieved. At other locations, the arrangement of the market is based on the best judgment of the market manager.

Can I use credit/debit cards or EBT cards at the market?
The market accepts debit, credit cards and EBT cards. Either card may be swiped at the Market Oasis tent, where customers will be given the desired monetary amount in wooden market tokens. Debit tokens carry a $5 value and EBT tokens carry $1 and $2 values. All vendors accept these tokens the same as cash, though by law EBT tokens cannot be given change. There is a $2 bank fee for swiping a credit or debit card, as in most ATMs. The wooden tokens do not have an expiration date; they may be used from year to year and are accepted at all of the Columbia Farmers Market locations.

How can I know which vendors will be at a certain market?
Predicting which vendors will be at any given market is difficult. Vendors make their own decisions based on weather, product availability, workload, and more; these are sometimes last-minute decisions. However, the market manager updates the Interactive Market Map each week, finalizing it Friday evenings.  If you are interested in a specific vendor, you may be best off contacting that business directly with your question. Use the market's vendor listings pages for those vendors who choose to submit their information.

What do I do if severe weather threatens the market?
The market manager monitors weather conditions and may make a public announcement if severe weather threatens. Seek appropriate shelter if necessary. Please be aware of blowing items and lightning during stormy conditions and do not expose yourself to unnecessary risk at the market.

Are all the farmers organic?
Farmers at the market use a wide variety of agricultural methods. A few vendors are certified organic, but many are not. "Organic" refers to a specific set of agricultural and food handling methods regulated by the USDA through record-keeping and third-party inspections. The market does not regulate or take a position on the use of GMOs, synthetic fertilizers, manure, pesticides (including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides), or any other agricultural practices.

Though market rule #8 states that "the market expects members to truthfully represent their products and operations", the market does not regulate use of terms like "chemical-free", "no-spray", "natural", or "sustainable". Customers are encouraged to ask questions of any vendor (organic or not) about their growing methods and philosophies in order to make accurate and informed choices about their food.

How can I apply to join and sell at the market?
Please review our rules to ensure you understand our policies, then visit our How to Become a Vendor page.