The VAFM Needs Your Help!

(Cross-posted from the Vermillion Area Farmers Market site)

In late January, the Vermillion Area Farmers Market Board was notified of an ordinance in the city code for the licensing of itinerant merchants, peddlers, and solicitors.

The stated purpose of this licensing requirement “…is to prevent fraud and other crimes, to protect citizens of the city from undue invasions of privacy, from undue annoyance and harassment, and to maintain the health, safety, and welfare of residents of the city…” (§116.01–pdf!).

The market board was told that under the current wording of the ordinance, many of our vendors are subject to this licensing requirement, which entails a fee of $25/day or $200/month for the privilege of selling within Vermillion’s city limits.

We believe this fee creates a financial burden for local producers that, if enforced, would cause the loss of many vendors from our market.

Currently, the only vendors exempted from the ordinance’s requirements are those who sell fruits and vegetables. No other food vendors (baked goods, jams and jellies, meats, eggs, etc.) or handmade goods vendors are exempt.

We engaged in negotiations with City Manager John Prescott to craft an exemption that would cover all of our vendors in order to maintain the integrity of the market, but reached an impasse in those negotiations.

Now, we are asking for your support as we apply directly to the Vermillion City Council for a specific exemption from the itinerant merchant licensing requirement for the Vermillion Area Farmers Market and our vendors while they are engaged in selling at our market.

The City Council will first discuss the exemption at their Monday, April 5th meeting at 7pm in City Hall. They will vote on the exemption at their next meeting, scheduled for April 19th at the same time and place. We welcome and encourage your presence and words of support at either or both of those meetings.

We also urge you to contact the City Council to express your support for this exemption. If you are a resident of the City of Vermillion, you can identify and contact your aldermen using this link.

If you are not a city resident, we still ask your support on this issue by contacting Mayor Dan Christopherson (danchris(AT)vyn(DOT)midco(DOT)net) or leaving a message at City Hall (605-677-7050).

If you’d like further information about this issue, please feel free to contact me at (605) 202-0252 or e-mail organicpeas(AT)hotmail(DOT)com.

Thank you for your support, and we look forward to seeing you at this year’s market!


2 responses

    • We had friendly and positive negotiations with the City Manager, but I don’t think he felt it was within his purview to grant our market/vendors a specific exemption–that’s more City Council terrain.

      There was a concern about exempting “farmers markets” as a whole because then anyone (theoretically) could call themselves a farmers market and duck the rules. We weren’t satisfied with a compromise that wouldn’t include all our vendors (even the few craft vendors we have) because every vendor is important to the market as a whole–and we felt strongly that vendors who were not exempted would leave the market to sell elsewhere. That hurts everyone.

      So, we decided to go this route. There are no hard feelings–we just felt this was the best way to protect all our vendors.

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