FAQ: In recent year 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. How many farmers markets are there? What states are in the top 10?
Answer: USDA has released new data on the number and concentration of farmers markets in the U.S., reporting that 8,144 markets are now listed in the National Farmers Market Directory. That's up from just 5,000 in 2008.
Local food and direct marketing opportunities, including farmers markets, are one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture, the report says. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, direct sales of food products from farmers to individual consumers rose by nearly 50% between 2002 and 2007.
"Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation's food system," says 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 addition to rise in volume of sales, the value is up too
In addition to the increase in volume of food sold, value is up too. 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.
Farmers markets may also work to bring communities together. "Farmers markets around the country continue to be popular social events for families and communities," says USDA Agricultural Marketing Service administrator Anne Alonzo. She notes that market offerings have become more diverse, bringing more small farms and businesses in as exhibitors.
California leads in number of farmers markets, New York second
Among the areas that boast the most farmers markets, California takes the top spot with 759 markets, followed by New York with 637. The remainder of the top 10 are Illinois (336); Michigan (331); Ohio (300); Pennsylvania (290); Massachusetts (289); Wisconsin (286); Missouri & Virginia (tie) (246); Iowa & North Carolina (tie) (229).~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Geographic regions like the mid-Atlantic increased to an 11.98% share of total number of farmers markets in 2013, from an 11.65% share in 2012; the Northeast rose to a 29.11% market share in 2013, from a 27.48% share in 2012; the Southeast region increased to a 5.03% market share in 2013, from a 4.79% share in 2012.
USDA has taken more steps to support direct marketing
USDA has taken several steps to support direct marketing by farmers as part of the department's commitment to support local and regional food systems, and increase consumer access to fresh, healthy food in communities across the country. For example:
* USDA launched a new API or application programming interface for the National Farmers Market Directory in May which helps consumers locate farmers markets nearby. APIs enable programmers to interact directly with an open data source to work with real-time data rather than a static data export that can become immediately out of date. The development is part of USDA's commitment to expanding opportunities for our local farmers markets and small businesses.
* USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), has outfitted more farmers markets with the ability to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), to improve access to fresh produce and healthy foods by SNAP recipients. USDA recently announced $4 million in available funding to help farmers markets and direct marketing farmers purchase and operate wireless point-of-sale equipment. Currently, over 3,800 farmers markets are authorized to accept SNAP in FY 2012, and farmers markets generate over $16 million in SNAP sales.
* USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative serves the growing local and regional market segment. This initiative coordinates and strengthens USDA's work on local and regional food systems.
* Many markets will host fun activities to celebrate National Farmers Market Week, including pie contests, festivals, cooking demonstrations, events for kids, raffle drawings and giveaways. USDA officials will visit markets around the country between Aug. 4 and Aug. 10, to honor growers and commemorate National Farmers Market Week.
* The USDA National Farmers Market Directory is available here. Users can search this year's enhanced directory for farmers markets based on location, available products, and types of payment accepted, including participation in federal nutrition programs such as SNAP and WIC. Farmers markets participating in federal nutrition program improve access to healthy food in underserved communities across the country.