Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Friday, November 04, 2011

Farmers Market Ordinance

The farmers market ordinance that my office has been working on for a year passed the Council this morning.  I will be writing another post about all of the good that I believe it will do, and thanking those involved in drafting it.

However, one major provision that the farmers market community asked for was deleted by the Council.  This was a requirement that Farmers Markets and Produce and Craft Markets be nonprofits, or the projects of nonprofits.  This was not an idea generated by City staff, but by the farmers market community itself.  They were looking to make clear to everyone that farmers markets are organizations established for the common good, and that this is an essential part of the identity of farmers markets. I beleive that this is summer we all know and appreicate about farmers markets today and that it is something most Minneapolitans value and would like to see continued.

The fact is that all large-scale farmers markets in Minneapolis, but one, are nonprofits (the one for-profit would have been grandfathered in as an adjunct to the Municipal market, which only exisits because it is across the street from it).  All markets were engaged in the process of drafting this ordinance.  All supported it.  Unfortunately, none of that mattered to the majority of my colleagues.

The motion to kill the nonprofit requirement was brought forward by Council Member Gary Schiff.  Those who voted in favor of striking the nonprofit requirement, against the expressed wishes of the farmers market community: Schiff, Colvin Roy, Goodman, Hofstede, Johnson, Quincy, Reich, Samuels, and Tuthill.

Those who voted to keep the requirement, in keeping with the community’s wishes: Gordon, Glidden, Hodges, Lilligren.

I’d like to share a little of the dismal process that brought us to this unfortunate outcome:
  • Despite the fact that our office shared the farmers market ordinance with Council Member Schiff’s office in early September, we were not informed that he planned to bring this amendment forward before this morning. A request by City staff and our office to brief CM Schiff was declined – he was the only CM to decline such an invitation.
  • In direct contravention of the adopted rules of the Council, Council Member Schiff's motion was presented verbally, not in writing.
  • Council Member Schiff's understanding of the ordinance was so limited that his motion to delete the nonprofit requirement included only the Farmers Market license type, leaving the requirement in place for the Produce and Craft Market license type.  This error had to be caught and corrected by others.
  • As of yesterday, Council Member Schiff and his office had not been in contact on this issue with the Midtown Farmers Market, the largest and oldest market in his ward.
  • Council Members Tuthill and Goodman expressed their support for the ordinance, including the nonprofit requirement, between the date of the industry meeting and the public hearing. They then voted against this key provision.
  • Council Members Samuels, Goodman and Hofstede voted in favor of the ordinance with the nonprofit requirement included in committee last week, then voted against the provision this morning.
We narrowly dodged having another motion from CM Schiff take another integral piece out of the ordinance as drafted by the farmers market community.  He moved to delete the entire section that requires farmers markets to be outdoors.  This would also have deleted the 6 indoor days per year – and, with them, the capacity to have those events on a different site, for free, as part of the standard farmers market license. This change would have undone one of the requests my office heard most clearly from farmers market folks over the last year: the desire to have your indoor, winter markets at a different site from outdoor. Again, because CM Schiff did not talk to me, my office, or members of the farmers market community before making this motion, we were unable to make this clear to him.
Fortunately, we won this vote, on a narrower-than-preferable 8-5 vote. Those who voted with the farmers market community: Gordon, Glidden, Hodges, Hofstede, Lilligren, Reich, Quincy, Samuels. Those who voted against the farmers market community: Schiff, Colvin Roy, Goodman, Johnson.

I fully expect that Council Member Schiff will use the events of this morning to attempt to paint himself as the best ally of the farmers market community.  I hope that this post helps set the record straight.


At 12:29 PM, Blogger Carolyn Carr said...

Hi there,

I have just been reading through the background and ordinance text the City is circulating about farmers markets and other forms of urban agriculture. I found both of your sets of comments about the Council's discussions and votes VERY helpful. I've passed them along to others interested in this issue.

Many thanks to you and Robin Garwood for your close attention to detail, leading this work.


Carolyn Carr


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