USDA Releases Results of Local Food Marketing Practices Survey
On December 20, 2016, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service released the results of the Local Food Marketing Practices Survey. This much anticipated release provides concrete numbers to quantify the impact of local farms on the economy. Nationally, food marketed locally, including value-added products such as cheese, brought in $8.7 billion in revenue. USDA provides results nationally, by state, and by seven multi-state regions. Their Northeast region includes 11 of the 12 states in the NESAWG region, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, DC. (West Virginia, was included in a different region.)
The Northeast region made an impressive impact on the local food market. Out of 7 regions, the Northeast produced 22% of direct farm sales. Over 30,000 farms marketed their products locally, resulting in $1.9 billion in sales. Nationally, New York and Pennsylvania had the third and fourth highest value of sales.
The survey breaks down these sales into three categories: direct sales from farm to consumer, direct sales from farms to institutions, and direct sales to retailers. NESAWG's region saw $966 million in direct sales from farm to consumer. This category includes sales onsite, offsite, online, at a farmers market, or through a community supported agriculture program. Most direct to consumer sales took place onsite or at a farmer's market. Direct farm to consumer sales was the largest category, followed by farm to institution sales at $615 million. Retail sales made up the smallest portion of sales at $313 million.
The Local Food Marketing Practices survey gives farmers, processors, distributors, and policy makers the data needed to make sound decisions. Overall, the results show that the local food market is strong, especially in direct to consumer sales. Policy makers and researchers will be looking deeper into this newly released data to fully assess the state of the local food market.