Happy National Farmers Market Week! For 18 years, the USDA has recognized local farmers by dedicating this week to them, so make your way over to your local farmers market and show them some support.
Texas Farm Girl has shared the environmental, health, and taste benefits of buying locally in the past, but in honor of NFMW, here are some other facts and benefits of farmers markets you might not have known:
One-third of the food U.S. farmers sell to consumers is sold locally.
Last year’s Census of Agriculture report noted that in 2015, more than 150,000 U.S. farms sold $8.7 billion worth of food to consumers, retailers, institutions, and distributors. About $3 billion of these sales were made directly to consumers through farmers markets, farm stands, and community-supported agriculture.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants redeemed more than $20 million in benefits buying from local farmers last year.
The USDA’s Food and Nutrition service has authorized nearly 7,000 farmers markets and individual farmers to accept SNAP (or food stamp) benefits. Additionally, the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant program is working to increase fresh produce purchases among SNAP participants by subsidizing them at farmers markets.
Three-fourths of farmers who sell at farmers markets meet or exceed organic standards.
A 2015 survey by the Farmers Market Coalition and American Farmland Trust found that almost half of farmers use used integrated pest management, information on the life cycle of pests, and their interaction with the environment to manage and prevent crop damage. Eighty-one percent of these farmers also used sustainable farming practices to ensure healthy conditions in their soil.
In 2008, farms producing local produce employed 13 full-time workers per $1 million in revenue earned, creating about 61,000 jobs.
A USDA’s Economic Research Service report found that farms not engaged in local food sales employed only 3 full-time workers per $1 million in revenue.
Farmers markets contribute about $9 billion a year to the U.S. economy.
Agriculture secretary Sonny Purdue noted this year that buying from local farmers has diversified farm incomes and supported other businesses by stimulating the local economy. He also noted that while it has positive economic benefits, farmers markets are also a great gathering place to help build a sense of community.