LOMPOC, Calif. - More farmers are joining a lawsuit against the Santa Barbara Certified Farmer Market Association, or SBCFMA.
In December, Lompoc farmer Jeff Hendrickson filed the lawsuit claiming the association shows preferential treatment for certain growers and violates state anti-trust laws. Hendrickson claims it is excluding small growers like him at the Tuesday and Saturday farmers markets in downtown Santa Barbara because they would take business from other vendors.
Central Coast News spoke with another farmer who has been in contact with Jeff Hendrickson's lawyer. And just like Hendrickson, he says his requests to join the more popular markets have basically fallen on deaf ears.
John de Bruin started selling his grass fed beef, along with chicken, eggs, and pork at the Sunday farmers market in Goleta in 2009. John de Bruin says he's been waiting patiently to be allowed to sell at a more popular market by the SBCFMA, specifically the Tuesday and Saturday markets in downtown Santa Barbara.
"Because of various reasons we don't understand, we aren't allowed to sell there," says de Bruin.
John de Bruin says most of the competition at the higher end markets don't sell products like his all grass-fed beef, yet he still can't get in.
The attorney for the SBCFMA told Central Coast News over the phone today that it has no comment on the complaints.
As for de Bruin, waiting patiently was no longer an option so he decided to join the growing lawsuit.
"Maybe we're just tired of waiting," says de Bruin. "We're just tired of them just sitting around not doing anything."
The attorney for the association received the complaints at his office today.
As far as how important these popular markets are, Jeff Hendrickson had said that he could make quadruple the profits at one market in downtown Santa Barbara compared to one day at a smaller market.
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