USDA and Louisiana Officials Launch National Farmers Market Week

Saturday, August 6, 2016 - 11:00am

Release No.: 123-16

Alexandria, La., Aug. 6, 2016 - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Elanor Starmer today announced the start of the 17th annual National Farmers Market Week, joining USDA’s Louisiana state leadership and local officials to kick off the week’s activities at the Inglewood Harvest Barn Market.  The Administrator also signed a memorandum of agreement between several USDA agencies and the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA) to collaborate on projects that will support beginning and small farmers throughout central Louisiana.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack proclaimed Aug. 7-13, 2016, to be National Farmers Market Week, celebrating the role that the country's more than 8,600 farmers markets play in supporting farmers, connecting rural and urban communities, and providing Americans with fresh, healthy food. 

AMS supports farmers markets through grants, research, and technical assistance. Last year, AMS awarded over $26 million in competitive grants though the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, including more than $172,000 in grants awarded in Louisiana.  Thanks to USDA support, the popular USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory now lists over 8,600 markets, an increase of almost 98 percent between 2006 and 2016. 

"National Farmers Market Week is a great opportunity to recognize the many benefits farmers markets bring to communities across the country,” said Administrator Starmer.  “They expand local economies by creating opportunities and earning potential for farmers and ranchers, while also serving as a vital link between rural and urban America.”

The Administrator highlighted the results of a recent study showing that buying directly from farmers has an outsized impact on local economies and communities by benefiting other local businesses and creating more jobs, finding that a dollar of sales for a direct-market fruit or vegetable grower has about twice the local economic impact as a dollar of sales at one of the Sacramento region’s larger wholesale farms.  Administrator Starmer also announced initial findings from the most recent survey of nearly 1,400 farmers market managers listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, which show that markets are expanding to meet demand, helping incubate new businesses, and becoming more accessible to families using federal nutrition benefits.  A full report of the survey findings will be released this fall.

Throughout the week, USDA officials will celebrate at farmers market locations across the country.  In addition to the Alexandria, La. market, Starmer will visit the Uptown Market in Greenwood, S.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 10, and she will wrap up the week at the USDA Farmers Market in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Aug. 12.

Supporting farmers markets is a part of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative, which coordinates the Department's work to develop strong local and regional food systems.  Over the course of the Obama Administration, USDA has invested close to $1 billion in 40,000 local food-related projects on farms and in communities across the country.  You can find local and regional supply chain resources on the newly-revamped KYF2 website and use the KYF2 Compass to locate USDA investments in your community.  More information on how USDA investments are connecting producers with consumers and expanding rural economic opportunities is available in Chapter IV of USDA Results on Medium.  

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