2022 Census of Agriculture: Agricultural Census shows strong growth in direct sales from farms and ranches

U.S. map showing direct sales from farms and ranches by county in 2022.

Errata: On March 25, 2024, the map legend was revised to show that areas in yellow without dots represent direct sales of less than $2.5 million.

The Census of Agriculture reports data on local or regionally branded food sold directly to retail outlets, institutions (like schools), intermediate markets (like food hubs), and consumers (via outlets such as farmers markets). These local-food sales channels provide opportunities for farmers to explore revenue streams beyond traditional wholesale markets. Data from the 2022 Census of Agriculture, released in February 2024, show producers sold $17.5 billion in food, including both unprocessed and processed (value-added) food, through direct marketing channels. That was a 25-percent increase (after adjusting for inflation) since the 2017 Census of Agriculture and an annual real growth rate of 4.6 percent. The increase from 2017 was driven by a surge in food sold directly to retail outlets, institutions, and intermediate markets. From 2017 to 2022, sales through these three direct-sales channels increased 33.2 percent (adjusted for inflation) to $14.2 billion, and the number of operations selling through them more than doubled to 60,332. Direct-to-consumer sales through farmers markets, on-farm stores or stands, u-pick operations, community supported agriculture (CSA), and online marketplaces remained consistent with those in 2017 after adjusting for inflation. However, the number of farm operations (116,617) selling directly to consumers in 2022 was 10.3 percent less than in 2017. As was the case in 2017, direct food sales continue to be concentrated along the West Coast, particularly in California (37.7 percent of direct sales), and in the Northeast. Most counties with high volumes of direct sales are in or around metropolitan areas, whose populations provide a large customer base for producers. This chart is based on data obtained from USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service’s 2022 Census of Agriculture. For more on direct food sales, see the USDA, Economic Research Service report Marketing Practices and Financial Performance of Local Food Producers: A Comparison of Beginning and Experienced Farmers, published in 2021.

Download larger size chart (2048 pixels by 2449, 96 dpi)