Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Food for Thought: Farmer's Markets Growing Economies & Jobs

According to the Farmer's Market Coalition, farmer's markets are good for a lot of things, including the economy...

FARMERS MARKETS GROWING ECONOMIES AND JOBS Farmers Market Coalition Celebrates Farmers Markets as Economic Engines During National Farmers Market Week

While unemployment hovers at record levels this summer, entrepreneurship is thriving in unexpected places. With little fanfare, the nation’s several thousand farmers markets are growing jobs and strengthening local and regional economies.

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack proclaimed August 7-13, 2011 as National Farmers Market Week. Since 2000, the number of farmers markets has grown 150%, from 2,863 markets in 2000 to 7,175 in 2011. As demand grows for fresh, local food, and shoppers seek relationships with the farms that make such food possible, farmers markets are bolstering local economies in communities large and small.
  • Vermont farmers markets yielded $8 million in gross sales to producers in 2010, up 14% from 2009.
  • 21 farmers markets in Oklahoma led to an increase of 113 jobs, $5.9 million in direct and indirect economic output, and a $2.2 million increase in income.
  • 152 farmers markets in Iowa provided 576 jobs, $59.4 million in economic output, and a $17.8 million increase in income.
  • The Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans generated $9.88 million in total economic impact in 2010.
  • The Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers' Market in New Jersey has an annual regional economic impact of $2.6 million.
  • Twenty-six Mississippi farmers markets created a total economic impact of $1.6 million, 15.88 part-time jobs, $213,720 in wages, and $16,000 in state and local taxes.

Research shows, too, that farmers markets spur spending at neighboring businesses. Studies of the Easton Farmers Market in Pennsylvania, for example, found that 70% of farmers market customers are also shopping at downtown businesses, spending up to an extra $26,000 each week. The Emporia Farmers Market in Emporia, Kansas generated $36,000 in sales tax between 2003 and 2010, supporting the state economy.

A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists notes that “…further expansion of local and regional food systems has the potential to create tens of thousands of additional jobs. For example, modest public funding to support 100 to 500 farmers markets could create as many as 13,500 jobs over a five-year period.”

“Farmers markets are the ultimate green sector of the economy,” says Stacy Miller, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “They are stand-out successes in delivering triple bottom line benefits while making entrepreneurship work in towns large and small. During Farmers Market Week, FMC invites everyone to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ by celebrating the power of farmers markets to incubate new businesses and nourish both rural and urban economies.”

Learn more about how farmer's markets serve you and the wider community.

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