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Farmers’ Market Facts!

The following information also can be found online at the AMS Web site.

Direct marketing of farm products through farmers’ markets continues to be an important sales outlet for agricultural producers nationwide. Farmers’ markets, now an integral part in the urban/farm linkage, have continued to rise in popularity, mostly due to the growing consumer interest in obtaining fresh products directly from the farm.

The number of farmers’ markets in the United States has grown dramatically, increasing 63 percent from 1994 to 2000. According to the 2000 National Farmers’ Market Directory, there are over 2,800 farmers’ markets operating in the United States. This growth clearly indicates that farmers’ markets are meeting the needs of a growing number of farmers with small- to medium-sized operations.

Who benefits from farmers’ markets?

Small farm operators: Those with less than $250,000 in annual receipts who work and manage their own operations meet this definition (94 percent of all farms).

Farmers and consumers: Farmers have direct access to markets to supplement farm income. Consumers have access to locally grown, farm-fresh produce and the opportunity to personally interact with the farmer who grows the produce. 

The Community: Many urban communities where fresh, nutritious foods are scarce gain easy access to food. Farmers’ markets also help to promote nutrition education, wholesome eating habits, and better food preparation, as well as boosting the community’s economy.

2000 USDA Farmers Market Study Statistics  

  • Farmers’ markets are an important source of revenue.

  • 19,000 farmers reported selling their produce only at farmers’ markets

  • 82 percent of markets are self-sustaining; market income is sufficient to pay for all costs associated with the operation of the market (not including grant or in-kind support)

  • 58 percent of markets participate in WIC coupon, food stamps, local and/or state nutrition programs

  • 25 percent of markets participate in gleaning programs aiding food recovery organizations in the distribution of food and food products to needy families

WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program

USDA’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), established in 1992, provides additional coupons to WIC participants that they can use to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers’ markets. The program has two goals: to provide fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables from farmers markets to WIC participants who are at nutritional risk; and to expand consumers’ awareness and use of farmers’ markets. Fiscal Year 2001 federal funding for the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program was $20 million. The FMNP operates in 35 state agencies, including 4 Indian tribes, 1 territory, and Guam.

Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Pilot Program

The Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Pilot Program (SFMNPP) is a new program in which grants are awarded to States, U.S. Territories and Indian tribal governments to provide coupons to low-income seniors that may be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs. In March 2002, USDA awarded $10 million in grants to 26 states and 1 Indian Tribal Organization. State Departments of Agriculture, Aging, Health and tribal governments administering the grants developed creative partnerships that are utilizing infrastructure to offer farmers markets to expand to serve seniors, and to certify and distribute benefits to the estimated 370,000 low-income seniors this pilot is expected to serve. At least 11 projects are providing seniors with transportation to and from the markets through a partnership with senior centers, or have arranged for local growers to take their produce directly to senior housing to eliminate barriers of access. In 2001, fresh, nutritious, unprepared locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs were available to 3,700 farmers at 929 farmers markets as well as 542 roadside stands and nearly 90 community supported agriculture programs. Additional information about the FMNP can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/wic/CONTENT/FMNP/farm_mkt.htm.

USDA supports farmers markets

USDA continues to coordinate planning and operation of seasonal farmers’ markets at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Carver Office Building in Beltsville, Md., and the Bannister Federal Complex in Kansas City. The USDA also works with the U.S. Departments of Labor and Transportation to help support their farmers markets. For more farmers market information, call the Farmers’ Market Hotline at (800) 384-8704, or visit our Web page at www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets. Additional information about farmers’ markets and other direct marketing information can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/directmarketing

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