Ballarat grower calls for shake-up in farmers' market bureaucracy

A BALLARAT farmer has called for less bureaucracy in the Victorian Farmers Market Association (VFMA) accreditation program. 

Yendon Gourmet Tomatoes grower John Elford said accreditation should be the responsibility of the regional farmers’ market organisers, instead of a government-funded organisation. 

“I think the farmers’ market organisers should take care of the accreditation process,” Mr Elford said. 

“They should be responsible for policing who sells what at the market.” 

Mr Elford said accreditation was suited for city markets, not country markets. 

He said in the city it was easier for resellers to pass off produce as their own, but it was a lot harder to get away with it in the country. 

“Everyone already knows everyone ... it’s a bit different in the country,” he said. 

When the VFMA established an accreditation scheme for producers, Mr Elford was one of the first to sign up. 

“I wanted to sell my produce at the accredited Bannockburn market,” he said. 

He also trades at five other markets, including the Ballarat Lakeside Farmers’ Market at Lake Wendouree.

“Everything I sell, I’m growing here,” he said.

And Mr Elford has not noticed a big difference in trading at both accredited and unaccredited markets. 

“But at the unaccredited markets you don’t know where the product has come from,” he said.

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