Farmers Market Operation: Certified Scales Back »

Written collaboratively by Sierra Blachford; Chris Zdorovtsov (former SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist); and Lori Jacobson, Director of South Dakota Inspections/Weights and Measures Program.

Produce is either sold by weight or by another approved unit. Guidance for labeling and packaging can be found in the NIST Handbooks 44 and 130.
Ken Hammond, Flickr

Certified Scales

At farmers markets, growers  should sell fresh fruits and vegetables  by weight or other approved method of sale. When selling by weight, they will need to meet the South Dakota laws regarding certified scales.

South Dakota Codified Law requires any device used in a commercial transaction to be an approved NTEP (National Type Evaluation Program) device, meet the requirements of the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Handbook 44, and to be certified and sealed (inspected) by the State of South Dakota Department of Weights and Measures. This includes countertop scales, typically found at farmers markets.

Inspecting a scale is beneficial to both the vendor and consumer, as it ensures both parties are receiving fair and equitable treatment. For example, consumers want to feel confident they are “getting what they pay for,” while vendors need to know they are not giving away their hard earned product.

Vendors should purchase a scale with a NTEP certification. This certificate indicates that the scale demonstrated the ability to be properly calibrated and can hold calibration over time. Keep in mind that no device is perfect and must be adjusted periodically. Scales can be purchased off the Internet, from scale companies in South Dakota, or additional locations you may select.

Once a scale has been purchased, it is your responsibility to contact a SD Registered Scale (Service) Agency to place the device into service. In 2013, there were more than 80 private businesses that were registered to conduct business within the State of South Dakota. A list of these businesses can also be found by contacting the state’s Weights and Measures Program.

The Registered Service Agency completes a service form from the state that indicates the scale is working properly and is suitable for business. Once completed a State Inspector from the SD Department of Public Safety – Office of Weights & Measures will include the device into his or her schedule to be sealed. There are State Inspectors located across the state, who will coordinate with the vendor or marketer to complete the certification process.  The seal on the device indicates it can be legally used within the State of South Dakota. The Office of Weights and Measures does not sell or repair scales, but can inspect the scales that the vendor purchases; this office can be contacted at 605.773.3697.

State inspectors utilize calibrated weight kits to validate and certify small scales for commercial transactions within the State of South Dakota. Scales are required to be recertified every two years. Scales that measure less than 1,000 pounds cost $28/scale to inspect and certify.  If the scale is out of tolerance (deemed inaccurate) a scale repair service is required by law to fix the scale or a new scale should be purchased.

A vendor must take care in the transport of the scale to and from market so it is not damaged. Upon placement at market be sure your scale is zeroed out and level.

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