USDA released the 2011 National Farmers Market Directory on Friday to kick off the 2011 National Farmers Market Week, which takes place from Aug. 7 to 13 as declared by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. According to the directory more than 1,000 new farmers markets have been recorded across the country.
The annual report indicates a total of 7,175 farmers markets operate throughout the United States as more farmers are marketing their products directly to consumers than ever before. Last year, the USDA reported that 6,132 markets were operating across the country.
"The remarkable growth in farmers markets is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "These outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their businesses and also to communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods. In short, they are a critical ingredient in our nation's food system."
Updated market listings were submitted to USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service by farmers market managers on a voluntary, self-reported basis between April 18 and June 24, 2011, as part of USDA's annual outreach effort. USDA invited market managers to submit desired changes in their market's directory profile as well as new market listings. Information in the directory is also continually updated throughout the year in response to incoming requests.
The directory reveals that several states have experienced rapid growth in farmers markets since 2010, reflecting a growing interest outside of the Far West and Northeast states, where the popularity of farmers markets is more well-established. Alaska and Texas ranked at the top for most growth in farmers markets at 46 and 38%, respectively.
Of the total number of farmers markets reported by market managers, nearly 12% indicate they have the capability of accepting SNAP benefits onsite. This represents a 16% increase in the number of markets accepting SNAP benefits since 2010. While SNAP redemption data are not available for farmers markets specifically, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service recently reported that SNAP redemptions in 2010 totaled $7.5 million at all certified farmers market and direct-to-consumer food retail establishments. Program participants made 453,711 purchases at farmers markets and direct farm marketing outlets nationwide, with an average purchase amount of $16.69.
The USDA National Farmers Market Directory is available at farmersmarkets.usda.gov. Since the beginning of 2011 the site has more than 1.8 million page views. Users can search for markets based on location, available products, and types of payment accepted, including participation in Federal nutrition programs. Additionally, new features allow Directory users to locate markets based on proximity to zip code and to see links to active farmers market websites. Customized datasets can also be built for website and application designers.