Saturday, November 05, 2011

Going to the Farmers' Market?

If so, then this may be a good time to ponder those hardworking people who sit on the far side of the vegetable pile. The USDA did more than ponder. It surveyed the nation's farms in 2008 and estimated the number and characteristics of farms that sell their food locally--through roadside stands, farmers' markets, or to local groceries and restaurants. The recently released findings show that more than 100,000 farms across the country sell locally, generating $4.8 billion annually in sales (1.9 percent of gross agricultural sales).

Unlike the average farmer, the 58 percent majority of local food sale farms depend on farming as their primary occupation. And how much does that devotion earn them? According to the survey, the average farm that sells locally makes $56,240 per year in food sales. Farmers who sell at farmers' markets travel 31 miles to get to the market site, most of them bypassing smaller towns on the way. "Small towns may not generate enough consumer demand to support farmers' markets," notes the report. That may explain why most farms that sell food locally are in metropolitan areas.

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