USDA confirms growth and sustainability in farmers markets
Release from USDA Office of Communications
WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2013 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Saturday celebrated National Farmers Market Week with a kick-off event at the Columbia Heights Farmers Market in Washington, D.C.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that 8,144 farmers markets are now listed in USDA's National Farmers Market Directory, up from about 5,000 in 2008. The Directory, voluntarily updated by farmers market managers, state departments of agriculture, marketing associations, and others, is published online at farmersmarkets.usda.gov. This year, the Directory has been upgraded to include a new Application Programming Interface (API) that improves customer access to farmers market data.
"Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation's food system," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "They provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also help fill a growing consumer demand for fresh, healthy foods. In recent years, USDA has stepped up efforts to support local and regional marketing opportunities for producers, including a modernized Farmer's Market Directory to help connect farmers, consumers, communities, and businesses around the country."
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo spoke at Saturday's farmers market celebration at Washington, D.C.'s Columbia Heights Marketplace announcing the newly updated National Farmers Market Directory information.
"Due to consumer demand for local food we are seeing an increase in the diversity of market offerings, and more participation from small businesses and farms," Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Anne Alonzo said. "This year we are focusing on the sustainability and maturity of farmers markets- keeping new and old markets thriving and improving. Farmers markets around the country continue to be popular social events for families and communities."
Local food and direct marketing opportunities, including farmers markets, are one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, direct sales of food products from farmers to individual consumers rose by nearly 50 percent between 2002 and 2007. Worth an estimated $1 billion in 2005, local food sales grew to $4.8 billion in 2007 and nearly $7 billion last year, according to industry estimates. For nearby businesses in major cities across the U.S., having a farmers market nearby means an average increase in sales of anywhere from $19,000 to $15 million (according to a Marketumbrella research paper published in 2012).
The 10 top states account for over half (51.3 percent) of all markets listed in the Directory database:
1. California (759)
2. New York (637)
3. Illinois (336)