America’s hunger for locally and regionally grown food has become a $7 billion-per-year market. That means more consumers are savoring farm-fresh food, and more farmers—especially small and mid-size farmers—are profiting from new markets for their products. It also means that a trove of useful pricing and volume data about local and regional food markets is now available, ready to be collected and analyzed. Thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA is making that data available to farmers and businesses of all sizes for free and helping to level the playing field.
USDA Market News has created a new series of market reports on locally or regionally produced agricultural products. The reports—covering products from all commodity areas—are all available on the Local & Regional Food Marketing Information web page, which provides farmers, other agricultural businesses, and consumers with a one-stop-shop for market and pricing information for local and regional food outlets. Three report categories are now online:
- Farmers Markets reports, which list current commodity prices at a sample of individual farmers markets
- Farmers Auctions reports, which display current commodity volume and prices at auctions
- Direct to Consumer reports, which capture the prices of commodities that farmers sell directly to consumers
The number of operations reporting will grow over the next few years. USDA Market News is also developing Farm-to-School, Food Hub, and Retail reports to increase the scope of available data. These reports will give users accurate pricing information and the ability to track local pricing. An additional benefit is that farmers seeking loans can incorporate that information into realistic business plans, improving their chances of getting financed and insured by USDA or local banks and businesses. The reports also support the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which carries out USDA’s commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems.
USDA Market News has a 100-year history of serving a broad range of stakeholders at all levels of trading, from producer to consumer. Market News reports provide information to evaluate market conditions, identify trends, make purchasing decisions, monitor price patterns, determine transportation equipment needs, and accurately assess movement. The data, gathered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), are released within hours of collection, allowing producers and marketers to quickly see which of their commodities are in the greatest demand at which markets.
The service’s data informs policy decisions both domestically and abroad. Other USDA, Federal, and State agencies—including the Economic Research Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, Office of the Chief Economist, Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and National Agricultural Statistics Service—use USDA Market News information to report historical data; analyze existing and prospective conditions, programs, and policies; and make economic and agricultural price and production forecasts.
By making that same data available to everyone for free, USDA Market News ensures that no group is disadvantaged by lack of information. We encourage everyone to visit the new Local & Regional Food Marketing Information website and main USDA Market News site.