13 Aug 2014
USDA Seeking Business Listings for
Local and Regional Food Directories
Two recent announcements by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) highlighted the agency’s progress in developing three new directories that will support local and regional food systems and updated data for the already established National Farmers Market Directory.
The announcements included steps AMS is taking to launch three new local food directories: the National Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Enterprise Directory, National Food Hub Directory, and National On-Farm Market Directory. AMS is currently accepting business listings for these new directories through its webpage.
New Local Food Directories Seeking Listings to Prepare for Launch
As stated in these recent announcements, AMS is in the process of developing three new local food directories and is currently inviting managers and owners of local food entities to enter their business information on its directories webpage for inclusion in the new directories. Once a sufficient number of operations have been listed in the directories, AMS will make them available for public viewing through the AMS website.
Each directory will provide information such as mapped location, operating hours, months of operation, the types of products available, number of participating farmers, and the accepted forms of payment for local food enterprises.
These new directories are expected to be operational by early 2015, giving potential customers, business partners, and community planners easy, one-stop access to the most current information about different sources of local foods.
The new directories being prepared for launch are the:
USDA National Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Enterprise Directory – featuring listings and detailed information on CSAs, which are farms or networks/associations of multiple farms that offer consumers regular deliveries of locally-grown farm products during one or more harvest season(s) on a subscription or membership basis.
USDA National Food Hub Directory – featuring listings and detailed information on a variety of food hubs, which are businesses or organizations that actively manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products to multiple buyers from multiple (primarily local and regional) producers, to strengthen the ability of these producers to satisfy local and regional wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.
USDA National On-Farm Market Directory – featuring listings and detailed information on farm markets managed by single farm operators that sell agricultural and/or horticultural products directly to consumers from a location on their farm property or on property adjacent to that farm.
2014 Update to the National Farmers Market Directory
In addition to the new directories, AMS announced the latest results from the National Farmers Market Directory, which continuously accepts new and updated listings on the directories webpage.
During a tour of the Dane County Farmers Market in Madison, Wisconsin to launch the 15th annual “National Farmers Market Week” (which ran from August 3 through August 9, 2014), AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo announced that the National Farmers Market Directory now lists 8,268 markets across the country — an increase of 76 percent since 2008. This free, online directory provides information about U.S. farmers market locations, directions, operating times, product offerings, and more. The information is collected via voluntary self-reporting by farmers market managers and is searchable by zip code, product type, and other criteria. The directory receives over 2 million hits annually through its online website.
According to the USDA announcement, the National Farmers Market Directory shows the following states as reporting the most farmers markets: California (764 markets), New York (638 markets), Michigan (339 markets), Ohio (311 markets), Illinois (309 markets), Massachusetts (306 markets), Pennsylvania (297 markets), Wisconsin (295 markets), Virginia (249 markets), and Missouri (245 markets). All geographic regions saw increases in their market listings, with the most growth in the South.
The 10 states with the biggest increases in the numbers of farmers markets are Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Arkansas, North Carolina, Montana, Florida and Nebraska. Five of these states – Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and North Carolina – are part of USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity, where USDA has increased investment in rural communities through intensive outreach and stronger partnerships.
Local and Regional Food Systems as a USDA Priority
These local and regional food system resources from USDA reflects the continued commitment on the part of USDA to help grow economic opportunities and income for small and mid-sized family farmers, increase consumer choice and access to fresh and healthy food, and improve the economy in rural communities.
Earlier in the summer, USDA announced a Request for Applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), which is a competitive grants program developed in the 2014 Farm Bill that will provide a total of $30 million each year for a wide spectrum of direct-to-consumer and intermediated marketing projects.
FMLFPP and its predecessor program, FMPP, have been championed by NSAC for over a decade. The FMLFPP program in the 2014 Farm Bill was developed thanks to the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) with a host of co-sponsors. The FMLFPP launch marked a huge win for local and regional food systems and for NSAC in its 2014 Farm Bill campaign priorities.
With the application review process underway for FMLFPP, we look forward to the USDA announcements about the inaugural class of awardees.
More information on these directories is available in AMS’s press release and on USDA’s blog.