Here’s a handbook for the business side of farming.

By Patrice Barkentine, Outreach and Education Coordinator
Office of Compliance and Outreach, Washington State Department of Agriculture
Current version published September, 2014

WSDA Handbook for Small FarmsWelcome to the “Handbook for Small and Direct Marketing Farms: Regulations and Strategies for Farm Businesses in Washington State.” This is the seventh edition of this guide, popularly known as “The Green Book.” For more than 30 years, WSDA has produced this invaluable resource for our state’s small and direct marketing farmers. Our goal is to help farmers understand the rules and regulations for direct marketing an endless range of crops, livestock, seed, nursery products, processed and prepared foods, body care products and beverages in Washington State. We also cover information on business licensing, financing, taxes, labor, and more.

We have two major goals with the Seventh Edition of the “Handbook for Small and Direct Marketing Farms.” One is to expand the content to cover new products grown by Washington’s innovative farmers and the second is to make the format more user-friendly and accessible. You will find every page of the book numbered from 1-174 as well as an index at the back of the resource to easily find key words in this expanded edition. New information is in direct response to the frequently asked questions we get from farmers around the state. 

We updated all previous 26 fact sheets and added 15 new fact sheets. Eight of these fact sheets cover regulations for selling rabbit meat, seeds, sprouts, salad greens, nuts, nursery products, herbs, and herbal and dietary supplements. We added 3 fact sheets in the Direct Marketing Strategies section on Selling to Individuals: From Buying Clubs to U-Pick, Agri-culinary Tourism and Selling and Donating to Food Banks.

We have added two new sections. One section is “Voluntary Certifications” which includes information on organic certification, eco-labels, and good agricultural practices (GAPs). Another new section is “Regulations for Food Processing” and includes WSDA food processor license and facility requirements, as well as three new fact sheets on the cottage food permit, food product recall planning, and an FAQ on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The entire Handbook is available online at as one document and as individual fact sheets with a series of farm wisdom videos and photo examples illustrating key content.

As you plan or expand your direct marketing business for your farm, I hope this resource is useful and look forward to your feedback.

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