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Proposed farmers market bill would allow sale of homemade goods

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 19:18:49-05

COLLINSVILLE, Okla. — The fight to bring your favorite farmers market foods back to the shelves is heading to the state capital. After dozens of vendors had their products pulled in October, a new bill would bring them all back to indoor farmers markets across Oklahoma.

A push that began in Collinsville at Farm Hippie resulted in 300 signatures on a petition, and House Bill 3420.

It started when just after just a month of operation, 20 vendors got taken off the Farm Hippie shelves because their products were baked and canned at home.

Melanie Thompson is a farmer who holds her own farmers markets in the warmer months. She's seen what the law has done to those who rely on the extra income, and says it's time for a change.

"Farmers don't get paid a lot for what they do, so even if you can make a little money selling what you make, I think you should be able to do that," Thompson said. "Some of the people I know home-school, so they can't buy the curriculum for their children."

Ash Winfield, who owns Farm Hippie, says his store had an immediate $500 hit when the vendors' goods left the shelves.

"There's still people coming in today looking for those same vendors that have been gone since mid October," Winfield said. "We feel like a farmer, a home-based food producer, should be able to delegate with us to sell products for them."

The empty shelves have since been filled by other products, but Winfield says there will always be room in his store for those 20 vendors.

Coza Huffman is one of those vendors; she sold homemade rum cakes with the recipe she's used for 40 years.

"I came in one day and went to look at my shelf and saw it was empty. And I thought, 'wow we really had a good sale!'," Huffman said about the day she found out her cakes had been pulled. "I hated it. It was a little extra income, and it kept my time busy."

Huffman is retired, so she made her rum cakes at home, and couldn't afford to make them in a commercial kitchen, which Oklahoma law requires for health reasons.

Winfield says the bill is getting bipartisan support, and is slated to be read Feb. 3. He urges supporters of the bill to reach out to their local representatives to vote in favor.

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