The Government want to encourage farmers' markets which are sustainable and have done this in a number of ways: directly by providing funding under our grant schemes; and indirectly by working with other bodies such as FARMA (the organisation representing farmers’ markets—merger of the Farm Retail Association and the National Association of Farmers' Markets) and local authorities to facilitate the establishment of farmers' markets.
Our support for this work continues with the award, last autumn, of funding under the agriculture development scheme to FARMA for a project to develop a national producer verification scheme for farmers' markets and an assurance scheme for farm shops. As a result of this project, it is hoped that the combination of producer verification with the farmers' market certification scheme will result in strengthened consumer confidence in farmers' markets.
This support has been complemented, at a regional level, by the regional development agencies (RDAs) for a range of activities linked to the promotion of quality regional and local food culture. RDAs are also responsible for the delivery of part of Defra's Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which was agreed by the European Commission last year. Support is available under this programme for improving the competitiveness of a wide range of rural businesses, which could include farmers' markets.