Florida State Farmers' Markets
Mission and Overview
The mission of the State Farmers' Markets program is to assist in the marketing of farm products by providing information, leadership and modern facilities necessary to move farm products from the farm to the consumer, thereby assuring the consumer a better quality product at a reasonable price and a fair return to the producer by providing a convenient, dependable place through which producers and buyers may carry on the process of marketing.
The State Farmers' Market program is authorized by Chapter 570.07 (18), Florida Statutes, "to acquire suitable sites and erect thereon necessary marketing facilities and properly equip, maintain, and operate same for the handling of all staple field crops, meats, fruits and vegetables, poultry and dairy products, and all farm and home products and for selling and loading livestock and other activities determined to be beneficial to the production or sale of agricultural products and to let or lease space therein and thereon; employ such managers and other help as may be necessary to operate the plants and the costs of operation and maintenance."
Impact on Agriculture
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services operates a system of 13 State Farmers' Markets. These markets specialize in fresh Florida produce. More than 25 million units of fresh fruits and vegetables valued at more than $225 million are annually sold through the markets. Nearly a billion units of fresh fruits and vegetables valued at more than $5.5 billion have been sold through the State Farmers' Markets since the first one opened in 1935.
Fruits and Vegetable Markets
The 13 State Farmers' Markets are owned by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and are operated as a bureau within the Division of Marketing and Development. Self-supporting, other than the capital investment, these markets are maintained through income derived form a combination of package fees, packing house, cooler and offices rentals and truck scale fees.
Fundamentally, there markets are "built for service." Their function is to provide facilities for assembling and marketing Florida produce. Through volume production and marketing, effective competition is assured for both small and large growers and buyers.
Services offered and methods of sale vary from market to market, including telemarketing direct sales, broker sales, etc., with shipping point inspection available. Produce often is sold by sample, resulting in satisfaction to both producers and buyers. The volume varies greatly with small or large truck lots supplying purchasers' needs in species or variety of produce.
Farmers and buyers receive market managers' assistance at times in marketing produce grown in the area. The markets generally are active on a seasonal basis, operating up to 24 hours daily. Market offices are open year-round to assist growers and buyers in planning a sound marketing program.
The State Farmers' Markets cooperate with other agencies of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the United States Department of Agriculture, universities, and numerous other agricultural entities to extend activities and services in marketing.