Since November 2005, the Marketing Services Division of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has presided over the Farmers Market Consortium, a public/private sector partnership dedicated to supporting the farmers market industry by sharing and publicizing information about available sources of funding and technical resource, along with lessons learned from ongoing project activity. The Consortium includes representatives from:
- Other relevant federal departments (Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, Department of the Treasury),
- National non-profit organizations (American Farmland Trust, Fair Food Network, Farm Credit Council, Farmers Market Coalition, Future Farmers of America, FoodRoutes, MarketUmbrella, National Association of Produce Market Managers, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Project for Public Spaces),
- Funders (Farm Credit Council, Kellogg Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Sustainable Agriculture Food Systems Funders, Wallace Center at Winrock International, Wholesome Wave) and,
- Other farmers market stakeholders.
Members of the Consortium meet every quarter to review and discuss topical issues relevant to farmers market growth and performance on a national level. Recent themes have included improvements in the acceptance of SNAP and other Federal nutrition assistance programs at farmers markets, the role of financial incentives in attracting new customers to farmers markets in lower-income areas, ongoing attempts to examine the connections between farmers market patronage and nutritional behavior, new sources of farmers market funding, strategies for enhancing community awareness of farmers markets, and tools for conducting economic impact analyses of market operations.