The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is opening the updating process for the USDA National Farmers Market Directory, the official count of the nation's farmers markets. For the first time this year, the directory will also track farmers markets with multiple locations and operating days.
"The USDA National Farmers Market Directory not only counts, lists and maps the country's more than 6,100 farmers markets, it is also a fantastic resource for those interested in local food production, small producer success, and public policy about regional food systems," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "In addition to helping people find the closest farmers market, the farmers markets listed in this directory are included in maps, mobile apps and other stats. We hope that all managers ensure their markets are included so that no farmers market misses out on this opportunity."
All of the information in the directory relies on input from farmers market managers in the field. USDA urges all market managers to update their listings in time for the summer farmers market season. Farmers market managers can update their market listings at www.usdadirectoryupdate.com.
The National Farmers Market Directory will be periodically updated over the summer as farmers market managers continue to submit their listings to USDA's database. Farmers market managers who are able to update their listing by May 1 will be able to find their markets on the directory by mid-July. The complete directory will be released in time for National Farmers Market Week, Aug. 7-13.
Since 1994, USDA has counted the number of operational U.S. farmers markets. During that time the number of farmers markets listed in the USDA National Farmers Market Directory has skyrocketed from 1,755 to 6,132. The directory captures information about where and when farmers markets operate, if they participate in federal nutrition benefit programs, and detailed information about their seasonality and location.
In the first quarter of 2011, the USDA National Farmers Market Directory had more than 65,000 Web page views. The directory has been featured as part of the CNN/Foursquare "Healthy Eating Badge" campaign, and on www.data.gov as part of the federal government's commitment to open government. Data from the directory is also being used by www.RealTimeFarms.com and other organizations mapping and analyzing the farmers market sector.