NATIONAL FARMERS MARKET WEEK IN FULL SWING
Fresh fruit, veggies and handmade local goods now have an entire week of recognition. The U.S. Department of Agriculture kicked off National Farmers Market Week yesterday, with celebrations running through Aug. 10.
|Farmers markets provide a great opportunity to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables. For a market near you, visit FarmersMarkets.USDA.gov.|
“Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation’s food system,” said Agriculture 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.”
During a kick-off event, Vilsack announced 8,144 farmers markets are now listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, up from about 5,000 in 2008. The irectory, 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.
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.
For more information, or to locate a local farmers market, visit FarmersMarkets.USDA.gov.