New Farmers Markets Up 17% in the USA Last Year. 10 States Report Increases of 30% or More!
It's a great day to be alive when farmer's markets are experiencing unprecedented growth, as they are year-over-year as indicated in this new USDA government press release.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are now 7,175 farmers markets in the country, up from 6,132 just one year earlier - an increase of around 17%.
Of the total number of farmers markets reported by market managers, nearly 12 percent indicate they have the capability of accepting SNAP (formerly known as food stamp) benefits onsite. This represents a 16 percent increase in the number of markets accepting SNAP benefits since 2010.
"The remarkable growth in farmers markets is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "These outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their businesses and also to communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods. In short, they are a critical ingredient in our nation's food system."
According to the report, the following states recorded the highest increase in the amount of farmers markets. The top-10 list for growth is as follows:
Alaska (35 markets, up 46 percent)
Texas (166 markets, up 38 percent)
Colorado (130 markets, up 38 percent)
New Mexico (80 markets, up 38 percent)
Indiana (171markets, up 37 percent)
Oklahoma (61 markets, up 32 percent)
South Dakota (29 markets, up 32 percent)
Pennsylvania (266 markets, up 31 percent)
Ohio (278 markets, up 31 percent)
Michigan (349 markets, up30 percent)
Reasons for the rise may include a continued depressed economy, a more health-conscious society, and a changing demographic in USA (a rise in immigrants to America over the last several years and decades).
As this National Farmers Market Week comes to a close tomorrow (Saturday, August 13th), please take time this weekend to help your local farmers and regional economy by buying local at your nearest farmers market.
If you've yet to visit one of these markets, you're in for a treat. Not only does it get you out in nature, but you'll get to mingle with lots of friendly folks, get to know some of the farmers themselves, and of course come home with great food.
Advantages include freshness, availability of more organic produce, affordability, and depending on the size of the farmers market - great variety and selection.