National Farmer’s Market Week: How to Eat Local, Wherever You Are

Greg Bates, August 7th, 2013

USDA National Farmers Market Directory This week is national farmer’s market week, with over 8,100 markets across the country. The farmer’s market directory API that gives access to the data is one of five USDA APIs in our directory. Two of the other 4 are no longer available: ERS/USDA Per Capita Food Availability Data API and USDA Animal Identification Management System API. However, the USDA Economic Research Service API, and the USDA Soil Data Access API are still live. We last covered the farmer’s market directory API on its released mid-May.

This SOAP API returns data in JSON and is run by the USDA Marketing Service.

According to the press release about the event, local food markets are big business,

“Local food and direct marketing opportunities, including farmers markets, are one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, direct sales of food products from farmers to individual consumers rose by nearly 50 percent between 2002 and 2007. Worth an estimated $1 billion in 2005, local food sales grew to $4.8 billion in 2007 and nearly $7 billion last year, according to industry estimates. For nearby businesses in major cities across the U.S., having a farmers market nearby means an average increase in sales of anywhere from $19,000 to $15 million (according to a Marketumbrella research paper published in 2012).”

The demand from consumers is fueling a growing diversity of offerings. As would be expected, there are more farmer’s markets in the more populous states. California has 759 in the directory; New York state is second with 637 markets.

The directory API is is part of a series of efforts by the USDA to facilitate local markets. For example, the USDA made $4 million available to help local markets accept payments from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP. Now, over 3,800 markets can accept this form of payment, nearly half of them. Their ability to accept these payments is identified in the farmer’s market directory.

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