The Illinois General Assembly unanimously has passed legislation that "will result in smarter, streamlined and statewide rules for food sanitation at farmers markets," according to Wes King, executive director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a statewide organization focused on local food development.

The legislation, House Bill 5657, is aimed at supporting and sustaining farmers markets and the farmers and vendors involved in them, the alliance announcement stated.

"This is a really important step when it comes to supporting farmers markets and community development," King wrote. "As a state, we should be doing everything we can to support the growing local food and sustainable agriculture sector, and that is exactly what this legislation does."

The Farmers Market Task Force of the Illinois Department of Public Health will be given until Dec. 15 to complete recommendations for consistent statewide regulations for farmers markets.

The law also calls the task force to develop a statewide certificate allowing farmers and processors to offer product samples to potential customers.

It also establishes a $25 per year limit on the fees local health departments can charge to register cottage food operations.

And, it would require farmers market vendors that sell produce to have small signs, labels or packing slips that provide the address where the products were grown or purchased.