Keeping Your Market Legal

Whether you are a market manager or a market member, it is important to help ensure that all the market vendors follow state law and general food safety practices. The last thing anyone wants is for a shopper to get sick, which could have a lasting impact on a market.

Samples 2Maine has a law defining the phrase “farmers’ market.” The law says that a farmers’ market must have at least 2 farmers, each of whom are selling farm products produced on their own farms (at least 75% – see the law for more detail). If a farmer brings products from another producer, that must be clearly indicated to shoppers. This law does not regulate whether or not non-farmers may participate in a market, which is up to individual markets to decide and document in their market rules.

MFFM is not a regulatory agency, but we provide resources about current laws to help markets stay up-to-date. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry’s Department (DACF) of Quality Assurance and Regulations inspectors regularly visit markets throughout the state to check on food safety compliance and help put market members in touch with resources.

For the full list of requirements for most market food products,

see the DACF’s farmers’ market guidelines here.

Questions? Call Ronda Stone in the DACF’s Dept of Quality Assurance at (207) 287-3841 and she will be happy to help. (And don’t worry, calling the office does not trigger an inspection.) The department has other laws that may pertain to your agricultural business which may be found on its website.


The Farmers’ Market Legal Toolkit is a great online resource created by NOFA Vermont and the Farmers Market Coalition. This online resource dives into a wide range of topics with legal implications: business structures, SNAP programs, insurance concerns and market mediation.

Related Topics

Hemp and Farmers’ Markets

Liquor sampling at farmers’ markets
The food sovereignty movement and farmers’ markets
Sampling of food products at FMs
Using the word “organic” when selling at FMs
Food Safety Modernization Act
Farmers’ Market Legal Toolkit (from the U. of VT Law School)

Interested in advocating for changes to food safety laws? Find out who is on Maine’s “Ag Committee” here, and find your local elected officials here.