04 May 2010

Farmers' Markets sans Farmers

WSJ | Lauren Etter | Food for Thought: Do You Need Farmers for a Farmers Market?

Tomah, Wis.—Farmers markets, with their hodgepodge of organic kale, artisan rye bread and peach preserves, have surged in popularity in recent years. But now authorities are questioning whether they're missing a crucial ingredient: real farmers.

Here in Tomah, where a farmers market has operated for the past decade in a grassy downtown park, a nasty dispute has cropped up. Local farmer Ronald Waege, who grows his own apples and blueberries just outside of town, says resellers are buying up produce at an auction and peddling it here, sometimes undercutting his own prices. Mr. Waege, who insists he's looking after the interests of consumers, has prodded the Tomah City Council to decide whether or not to ban resellers from the market. The council plans to vote on the issue next month.
This story amuses me way more than it ought to.

On the one hand sellers should not be misleading consumers about the source of their produce.

On the other hand producers who try and get the government to hobble their competitors are NEVER looking out for the consumer. They're in it for numero uno. If you can't get your produce to market for less than the combined operation of a farmer and an auctioneer and a middle man that's your problem. Don't use the government to force consumers to pay higher prices to preserve your business and paper it over with some aesthetic preference about "authenticity" of farmers.

1 comment:

  1. Ronald should call them "artisanal apples" to justify a higher price; it works for bread...