USDA Reports 17% Increase in Number of Farmers Markets
September 23, 2011 | Deanna Krinn
More local farmers were able to get their wares directly to consumers this year, according to a study released in early August from the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2011 National Farmers Market Directory.
Since 2010, the number of farmers markets across the country has grown by more than 1,000, allowing the largest number of farmers ever the ability to sell their products directly to their local community. A total of 7,175 markets currently operate in the U.S. compared to 6,132 in 2010.
The numbers are “an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods,” said Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.
This year showed a boom in interest in many areas in the Midwest and other states that are commonly recognized for industrial agriculture. Indiana, South Dakota, Michigan, and Ohio, all known for their production of corn and other grains according to the U.S. Grains Council, had increases of more than 30 percent in the number of farmers markets in their states.
Alaska and Texas have seen the most rapid growth since 2010. Alaska had registered 35 markets at the time of the release, an increase of 46 percent. Texas followed with a total increase of 38 percent.
The first and third most populous states in the country possess the greatest number of farmers markets: California with 729 and New York with 520, respectively. Texas, the second most populated state in the union, has 166 markets for its population of more than 25 million.
Other states with large numbers of farmers markets include Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Iowa, Wisconsin and North Carolina.
In addition to a rising number of registered farmers markets in the country, the USDA also observed an increase in the ability to use SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) on site at markets. Nearly 12 percent of farmers markets in the country can now accept these benefits, which is an increase of 16 percent since 2010.
To see the complete directory of farmers markets registered with the USDA, visit http://farmersmarkets.usda.gov. Markets are searchable by location, products and types of payment accepted, including participation in Federal nutrition programs.