Farmers Markets

A "farmers market” is a marketplace which operates seasonally, mainly as a common market for Iowa-produced farm products, as well as on a retail basis for off-the-premises consumption.

What you need to know before selling at a farmers market

Certain items can only be sold at a farmers market with a valid food license. Any potentially-hazardous food can be sold at a farmers market with one of the following three licenses:

Fresh vegetables in baskets
  • Farmers market license
    • A separate license is required for each county in which a vendor sells food.
    • Each annual license is $150. Recommended time to apply is at least two weeks prior to the operating date but must be received at least three days prior to the event.
    • The license is only valid at farmers markets.
    • If the vendor operates two or more stands simultaneously, a separate license is required for each unit.
  • Mobile food unit license
  • Temporary food establishment license

Potentially hazardous (time- and temperature-controlled foods) that are not prepared at the farmers market must be produced in a licensed facility (food service establishment, food processing plant, mobile food unit, temporary food establishment). A farmers market license is also required to sell these foods at the market.

Canned goods, except jams and jellies that meet the Standard of Identity for jams and jellies specified in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 150 (and are exempt from licensing), must be from a licensed food processing plant.

    Other regulations

    The requirements outlined here relate only to Iowa licensing and inspections. Individual products may also be subject to FDA regulations. To determine if FDA regulations are applicable visit the FDA website or contact them at 1-888-463-6332.


    Strawberry cheesecake

    The following products may not be sold at a farmers market without appropriate licensing from local, state or federal authorities:

    1. Foods that time- or temperature-controlled for safety (potentially-hazardous food products), which include:
      • Meat
      • Poultry
      • Dairy products
      • Cooked foods (This includes all ingredients (including eggs) used in the preparation of these foods, with the exception of honey and whole, uncut fruits and vegetables.)
      • Soft pies
      • Custard-filled products
      • Cream-filled products;
    2. "Home style” canned goods, as food in a hermetically-sealed container must be obtained from a licensed food-processing plant.
      (See FDA Food Code, Section 3-201.12 that has been adopted by Iowa Code Chapter 137F.2)
      The only exeption to this rule are jams and jellies that meet the Standard of Identity for jams and jellies specified Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 150 (Food and Drug Administration);
    3. Wild-harvested mushrooms as described in 481 Iowa Administrative Code, Section 31.1(4), Wild-harvested mushrooms. (See below for more information.)

    Butter cookies

    The following products may be sold at a farmers market to consumers without being licensed as a farmers market establishment:

    1. Whole, uncut fresh fruits and vegetables;
    2. Bakery products that are not time- or temperature-controlled for safety. Examples include:
      • Breads
      • Cakes
      • Doughnuts
      • Pastries
      • Buns
      • Rolls
      • Cookies
      • Biscuits
      • Pies (except meat pies)*;

        *The following products are examples of bakery products that are time- and temperature-controlled for safety and may not be sold at a farmers market without a license:
        • Soft pies
        • Custard-filled products
        • Cream-filled products
    3. Fresh,wholesome shell eggs;
    4. Honey (Please note: Products containing honey need to be individually evaluated); and 
    5. Foods that are not time- or temperature-controlled for safety (foods that are not considered potentially hazardous). These products do not require refrigeration, since they are "shelf-stable," and may be prepared in the home, to be sold for consumption off the premises. Some examples of products that can be prepared in the home for direct sale to consumer customers include:

    Chanterelle mushrooms

    Criteria for selling wild mushrooms at farmers markets

    Wild mushrooms may be sold at a farmers market if all of the following criteria are met:

    1. All wild-harvested mushrooms sold or served are varieties classified as one of the following:
      • Morel
        • White or blonde morel (Morchella americana)
        • Black morel (Morchella angusticeps)
        • Half-free (Morchella punctipes)
      • Oyster
        • Pearl (Pleurotus ostreatus)
        • Golden (Pleurotus citrinopileatus)
        • Aspen (Pleurotus populinus)
        • Indian, a.k.a. Italian, phoenix, or lung (Pleurotus pulmonarious)
      • Chicken of the woods
        • White-pored (Laetiporus cincinnatus)
        • Sulfur shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus)
      • Hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa)
      • Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius group)
      • Bear's head tooth, Lion's mane (Hericium erinaceus or Hericium americanum)
      • Pheasant back, a.k.a. Dryad's Saddle (Polyporus squamosus)
      • Black trumpet (Craterellus cornucopoides)
    2. Each wild-harvested mushroom must be inspected and found to be safe by a certified wild-harvested mushroom identification expert.
    3. The seller of the wild-harvested mushrooms must keep a written record for at least 90 days from the date the mushrooms were purchased with the following information:
      • Identification of each mushroom species by the scientific and common name;
      • Date of purchase;
      • The quantity by weight of each species of mushrooms purchased;
      • A statement indicating that each mushroom was identified in its fresh state and was not mixed or in contact with other mushroom species;
      • The name, address, and telephone number of the certified wild-harvested mushroom identification expert;
      • A copy of the wild-harvested mushroom identification expert’s certificate of successful completion of the program, including the date of completion.
    4. The seller must obtain a farmers market license or a mobile food unit license.
    5. The seller must inform customers by a consumer advisory in a brochure, deli case or menu advisory, label statement, table tent, placard, or other effective written means that wild mushrooms should be thoroughly cooked and may cause allergic reactions or other effects.

    Please refer to 481 Iowa Administrative Code, Section 31.1(4), Wild-harvested mushrooms, for additional information.

    Consumable hemp products may be sold at a farmers market if:

    Selling consumable hemp at other events or locations

    Selling or providing samples of consumable hemp at any other event or unregistered retail sites is prohibited (e.g., at a “pop-up,” roadside, or temporary stand; door-to-door; at private parties; in vending machines).

    Consumable hemp in food

    Food that contains consumable hemp cannot be sold unless it is produced in a licensed food-processing plant. Bread, cake, pie, or other “cottage food” items made in a person’s home kitchen or other residential space containing consumable hemp may not be sold at farmers markets or any retail location, even with a consumable hemp retail registration.

    Raw hemp

    Harvested raw hemp is considered a raw agricultural commodity and is not regulated by DIA. However, raw hemp packaged for human consumption may be sold as long as it has been manufactured according to the rules and regulations found in Iowa Administrative Code 481, Chapter 32, and the appropriate food licenses have been obtained prior to manufacturing.

    Product labels

    All food sold at farmers markets must be labeled with the common name of the food and the name and address of the person who prepared the food.

      Food that is prepared in a licensed food establishment or food processing plant must be labeled at a minimum with the following information:

      • Product name
      • A list of ingredients in order of predominance (by weight). If the product has a standard of identity in the Code of Federal Regulations, it must conform to that standard.
      • Name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor. Unless the name given is the actual manufacturer, it must be accompanied by a phrase which states the product is “manufactured for” or “distributed by.”
      • Net weight or volume.
      • Allergen information.
      • Nutrition labeling information is required unless exempt. Exemptions may be found on the website.

      Allergen information

      Allergen information needs to be declared on the label or by the use of a placard.

      The following food products are considered major allergens and should be declared:

      • Crustacean (crab, lobster or shrimp)
      • Eggs
      • Fish
      • Milk
      • Peanuts
      • Sesame
      • Soybeans (not refined soybean oil)
      • Tree Nuts (almonds, pecans or walnuts)
      • Wheat