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Farmers market vendors being shut out of decisions [Letter]

7:17 PM EST, November 19, 2013

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I'm a former consumer representative to the Howard County Farmers Market Board. The Thursday market at the East Columbia Library is the original market in Howard County, having been a presence for some 25 years. In a move to make the markets more convenient to others in Howard County, more markets were established in other parts of the county. This had the partial effect of diluting the customer base even as it attracted new customers.

Then, some members of the Board passed a rule allowing only Howard County merchants to be on the Board. That shut out all the Thursday vendors from any representation and put the Friday vendors firmly in control of the Board. These vendors then decided that the Thursday and Saturday markets were taking away their business so proposed that these markets be eliminated.

I conducted a poll of the Thursday vendors last week to find that, other than Lewis Orchards, which is already a presence in the Sunday Oakland Mills market, none have plans to move to any remaining markets. What a loss this would be to no longer have these longtime vendors on this day in this area because of politics and anti-competitiveness.

Jan Smith

Columbia