21 February 2015 – are farmers’ markets peaking?

There is a new US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) report on ‘Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems’, published in January 2015. In a recent article on the Salt – the blog from the NPR Science Desk – Luke Runyon presents key findings from the report that suggest ‘while more farmers are selling directly to consumers, local food sales at farmers’ markets, farm stands and through community supported agriculture have lost some momentum’. Quoting the lead author of the report, economist Sarah Low, the article suggests that farmers are finding face-to-face sales do not provide the same opportunities as going through middlemen and food hubs to sell to restaurants, grocery stores and distributors. Figures from the report include:

Between 2007-12, the number of food hubs — local groups that connect farmers to food-using businesses — increased 288 percent;
Since 2006, the number of school districts with farm-to-school programmes increased by 430 percent.

If you want to find out more, the USDA report is here and the Salt blog is here

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