Local News

Higher fees upset Farmers Market vendors

Posted January 5, 2010 6:35 p.m. EST
Updated January 5, 2010 6:53 p.m. EST

— Fifty percent increases on the daily fees charged to vendors at the State Farmers Market went into effect Tuesday, generating heat on an otherwise frigid day for produce sales.

In-state vendors now must pay $15 a day to rent Farmers Market space, while out-of-state vendors are charged $30.

The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the higher fees were necessary to pay for maintenance at the markets in Raleigh, Lumberton, Charlotte and Colfax. Officials noted that state budget cuts last year reduced funding for the markets by $400,000.

"It's going to be hard, especially as cold as it is right now," vendor Renee Blackmon said. "The fee going up is going to make it harder for us to come out and try to sell what we've got."

Vendors like Edna Moore said they are having a tough time selling anything at all during the winter. Moore said she's angry the agriculture department didn't wait until the spring to change the rates.

"Five dollars per two spaces, that's $10 a day extra," she said. "Right now, it's very slow here. We don't have anything to sell but greens and collards and sweet potatoes."

The added expense will likely be passed on to consumers at the Farmers Market through higher produce prices, Blackmon said.

"We're hoping we won't have to do that, but if we have to, we just have to," she said.

In November, the rent went up at the State Fairgrounds, where most flea market vendors faced a 35 percent increase. A vendor's rent there is based on the square footage they occupy.