One very important reason for Congress to expedite work toward a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is to continue today’s rapid growth in local and regional marketing opportunities for American agriculture.
From local farmers markets to regional food hubs, these new opportunities benefit a wide range of Americans from all walks of life.
They benefit farmers and ranchers who are looking to start selling locally or scale up to regional sales. Farmers markets and regional food hubs have a particularly positive impact for small and limited-resource producers. Sales of local foods are growing rapidly, creating a multibillion-dollar market opportunity for producers. Read more »
Bartenfelder Farms at Baltimore’s Farmers Market and Bazaar in Baltimore, MD. Vendors now accept Baltimore Farmers Market and Bazaar tokens, thanks to the new wireless connected electronic card reader that accepts the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Service’s (FNS) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, Baltimore Bucks, and debit cards. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
What Agriculture Under Secretary Concannon calls a win-win situation, is taking root in rural Alabama with help from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and state officials. Local farmers’ markets are getting authorized to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards which will allow them to expand their customer base and offer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants healthy and local produce.
With federal grant money provided to states through September 30, 2013, eligible farmers’ markets and now direct marketing farmers are receiving free wireless point-of-sale (POS) devices. As part of the Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) StrikeForce efforts to reach out to communities in persistent poverty stricken areas, its Southeast Regional Office recently offered three farmers’ market sign-up days in Madison, Selma, and Robertsdale, Alabama. Read more »
Over the first week of August, local markets across the country celebrated National Farmers Market Week.
Farmers markets are an important part of America’s diverse agriculture sector, providing unique benefits to communities across our nation. They give Americans a chance to learn about agriculture by meeting some of the people who grow and raise our food. They provide valuable marketing opportunities for small and beginning farmers – many of whom scale up to larger regional markets and other institutions. And they help expand access to locally-grown foods that are in greater demand than ever before. Read more »
Bonnie Dotson and her husband Josh sell fresh fruits and vegetables from their farm at Division Street Market in Chicago, IL.
Last summer I witnessed an amazing group of partners – the majority women, coincidentally – making a big difference in the lives of those who suffer from hunger. It all started with USDA’s effort to expand the availability of wireless technology at farmers markets not currently accepting SNAP benefits.
It’s sometimes difficult for markets to accept SNAP, because they need Electronic Benefit Transfer equipment and electricity to process benefits from the card. The funding can be used to help markets purchase the processing equipment, and to pay for wireless service so the equipment can be used without a power source. This is really exciting because it means more SNAP participants can access fresh, affordable and local produce and more American farmers can expand their client base. Read more »
One ag-educator expressed the feelings of many at the first meeting of the USDA Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers when he concluded, “This meeting is a progressive step in the right direction. USDA should be commended for doing this, and should convene this kind of public forum more often.”
A small farmer from Michigan added her encouragement, saying, “We don’t just want to talk about it anymore – we want it to happen.” Read more »
Corey Chapman, EBT Coordinator for City of Chicago farmers markets, processes a woman’s benefits card so she can purchase items at the market.
If there’s one thing Corey Chatman is passionate about, it’s making sure everyone has access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Maybe it’s because he knows what it’s like to rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for nourishment. Read more »