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The share of SNAP households that live far from a supermarket or large grocery store varies by county

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Distance from a supermarket or large grocery store offering a variety of affordable and nutritious foods can influence food choices and diet quality. Data from ERS’s Food Environment Atlas show that in 2015, 2.5 million households receiving benefits from USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) lived more than 1 mile from the nearest supermarket or large grocery store in urban areas or more than 10 miles from such stores in rural areas. In 98 counties—3 percent of the 3,143 U.S. counties—more than 10 percent of SNAP households lived more than 1 mile or 10 miles away from the nearest supermarket or large grocery store. The 10 counties with the highest shares of SNAP households living far from supermarkets and large grocery stores were in South Dakota, Alaska, Georgia, and Texas. For example, in Presidio County, Texas, 25 percent of SNAP households either lived more than 1 mile in urban neighborhoods—or 10 miles in rural areas—from the nearest supermarket or large grocery store. This map appears in USDA’s Food Environment Atlas, updated September 2017.

Nearly half of U.S. counties had at least one farmers’ market that accepted credit cards in 2016

Friday, November 3, 2017

If you want to use a credit card when you buy your fall apples at a farmers’ market this year, you may be in luck. With the increase of technology in our everyday lives, there has been a gradual transition from cash to credit cards. Farmers’ markets are no exception. Accepting credit cards widens the customer base to include the growing number of Americans who prefer to use credit cards for their purchases. Data from USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service show that 72 percent of U.S. counties reported having at least one farmers’ market in 2016 and 68 percent of those counties—48 percent of all 3,143 U.S. counties—reported having one or more farmers’ markets that accepted credit cards. The number of farmers' markets in a county that report accepting credit cards is one of the new statistics in ERS’s updated Food Environment Atlas. The Atlas assembles statistics on over 275 food environment indicators at the county or State level that can influence food choices and diet quality. According to the Atlas, 1,521 counties had 1 or more farmers’ markets that accepted credit cards and 77 counties had more than 10 farmers’ markets that accepted credit cards as a form of payment for goods. This map appears in USDA’s Food Environment Atlas, updated September 2017.

Schools in the Northeast are more likely to serve local foods every school day

Monday, May 22, 2017

In 2013, ERS and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service collaborated on the first Farm to School Census to collect data from public school districts on the use of local foods in school meals. The information collected included how frequently local foods were served and which ones were served more often. Milk, fruit, and vegetables were the most frequently served locally-produced foods. ERS researchers found that, after controlling for other characteristics that vary across school districts, districts in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic were 28 and 17 percentage points, respectively, more likely to serve local foods daily than those in the Southwest. School districts in cities were 11 percentage points more likely to serve local foods daily than districts in rural areas, and districts with 5,000 or more students were 9 percentage points more likely to do so than districts with less than 5,000 students. This chart appears in "School Districts in the Northeast Are Most Likely to Serve Local Foods on a Daily Basis" in the May 2017 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

Rural school districts less likely to serve local food frequently in school meals

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

According to USDA’s 2013 Farm to School Census, 35 percent of all U.S. school districts reported serving local food in school meals during the 2011-12 school year. Twenty-two percent of all school districts served at least one locally-sourced food item daily or more than weekly, and 19 percent of school districts—containing 30 percent of U.S. school children—served local food daily. ERS researchers analyzed data from the Farm to School Census to identify which types of school districts were more likely versus less likely to serve local foods frequently in school meals. Rural school districts were 11.2 percentage points less likely to serve local food daily than school districts in cities, after accounting for other school district characteristics, such as region, enrollment level, per capita income of the surrounding county’s residents, and county-level density of farmers’ markets. School districts in suburbs and towns were also significantly less likely to serve local food daily compared to districts in cities. The data for this chart are from the ERS report, Daily Access to Local Foods for School Meals: Key Drivers, March 2017.

Schools serve a variety of locally-produced foods daily or more than weekly

Friday, March 31, 2017

Frequent use of local foods in school meals can bolster the market for local agricultural producers and increase student awareness and interest in healthier foods. In school year 2011-12, more than one in five U.S. school districts (22 percent) served at least one locally-sourced food item daily or weekly. The most popular local food categories were milk (offered daily or more than weekly by 15.4 percent of school districts), fruit (offered by 14.5 percent of districts), and vegetables (offered by 12.2 percent of districts). Locally-produced baked goods, meat, and eggs were also served frequently by some districts. A recent ERS report examined characteristics of school districts that frequently serve local foods. Districts more likely to serve local foods daily tended to be larger, in the Northeast, in urban areas, and in States where residents had higher rates of college completion. This chart appears in the ERS report, Daily Access to Local Foods for School Meals: Key Drivers, released on March 23, 2017.

Beginning farms that sell directly to consumers more likely to survive

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Beginning farmers, those who have managed a farm or ranch for 10 years or less, generally have lower rates of business survival than more established farm operators. According to Census of Agriculture data, only 48.1 percent of beginning farmers with positive sales in 2007 also reported positive sales in 2012—compared with 55.7 percent of all farms. Running a larger operation and selling directly to consumers (at roadside stands, farmers’ markets, and so on) may help beginning farmers remain in business. As a whole, beginning farms with direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales had a 54.3 percent survival rate, while 47.4 percent of those without DTC sales survived. This pattern holds across operations of different sizes, as defined by annual sales. The difference in survival rates was substantial—ranging from 9 percentage points for the smallest farms to about 4 percentage points for the largest. Farmers with DTC sales can usually get a higher product price and reach a certain level of sales with less machinery and land. In turn, these farmers may have a more stable income and need to borrow less—further increasing chances of survival. This chart appeared in the September 2016 Amber Waves finding, “For Beginning Farmers, Business Survival Rates Increase With Scale and With Direct Sales to Consumers."

Farms selling directly to consumers saw smaller increases in sales than other farms between 2007 and 2012

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Between 2007 and 2012, farms using direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing had smaller growth in nominal gross sales (13.5 percent), on average, than farms using traditional marketing channels (19.3 percent). In addition, gross sales on farms using DTC marketing grew more slowly in each size class (as measured by 2007 sales). The slower growth for farms with DTC sales may stem from several factors. The 2012 Census of Agriculture shows farms using DTC marketing employ substantially more labor across all sales categories than farms without direct sales. Therefore, farms with DTC sales may need to hire additional workers at a lower scale of production, and the associated transaction costs may provide an obstacle to growth. Off-farm income opportunity may also play a role, as farms with DTC sales are more likely to have total household incomes both less than $50,000, and less than $20,000. The lower total household income for farms with DTC sales may reflect fewer off-farm income opportunities, leading these farms to continue farming even if they have less ability to expand production. This chart is found in the March 2016 Amber Waves feature, ?Local Foods and Farm Business Survival and Growth.?

Organic producers reported economic losses from unintended presence of genetically engineered crops

Thursday, September 1, 2016

U.S. organic farmers, and conventional farmers who produce crops for non-GE (genetically engineered) markets, must meet the tolerance levels for accidental GE presence set by domestic and foreign buyers. If their crops test over the expected tolerance level, farmers may lose their organic price premiums and incur additional transportation and marketing costs to sell the crop in alternative markets. Although data limitations preclude estimates of the impact just on organic farmers who grow the 9 crops with a GE counterpart, the data do reveal that 1 percent of all U.S. certified organic farmers in 20 States reported that they experienced economic losses (amounting to $6.1 million, excluding expenses for preventative measures and testing) due to GE commingling during 2011-14. The share of all organic farmers who suffered economic losses was highest in Illinois, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, where 6-7 percent of organic farmers reported losses. These States have a high percentage of farmers that produce organic corn, soybeans, and other crops with GE counterparts. While California has more organic farms and acreage than any other State, most of California?s organic production is for fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops that lack a GE counterpart. This map is based on data found in the ERS report, Economic Issues in the Coexistence of Organic, Genetically Engineered (GE), and Non-GE Crops, February 2016.

Farmers' markets concentrated in metro counties

Thursday, September 1, 2016

According to USDA?s National Farmers? Market Directory, 7,828 farmers? markets were operating in the United States in August 2012. Of the 3,143 U.S. counties, 33 percent had no farmer?s markets, 29 percent had 1 market, 21 percent had 2 or 3 markets, 12 percent had 4 to 10 markets, and 5 percent had more than 10 farmers? markets. The 143 counties with more than 10 farmers? markets account for almost 40 percent of the Nation?s farmers? markets. All but 10 are metro-designated counties where higher population concentrations provide a larger customer base. Half of these 143 counties are located in 6 States?California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In 2011, 129 U.S. counties had more than 10 farmers? markets. This chart appears in the December issue of ERS?s Amber Waves magazine.

Farms engaged in agritourism often pursue other nontraditional activities

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Agritourism involves attracting paying visitors to farms by offering farm tours, harvest festivals, hospitality services (such as bed and breakfast), petting zoos, and other attractions. Farms that provide agritourism services, referred to here as agritourism farms, also typically produce agricultural commodities and may provide a variety of other goods and services. Some agritourism farms engage in direct marketing of fresh foods to individual consumers and/or retailers, value-added agriculture (such as the production of beef jerky, fruit jams, jelly, preserves, cider, wine, and floral arrangements), generating renewable energy, and custom work (such as machine hire and hauling for other farms). All of these are considered nontraditional or niche activities that involve innovative uses of farm resources. While to some extent these nontraditional activities complement the farm operation?s commodity and agritourism enterprises, research suggests that they also reflect higher levels of education and connections to the broader economy that are more typical of agritourism farm operators. This chart is found in the October 2014 edition of Amber Waves magazine.

The number of farms involved in nontraditional activities increased over 2007-12

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Nontraditional farm activities involve innovative uses of farm resources, such as growing/selling value-added products (such as fruit jams, preserves, cider, wine, floral arrangements, and beef jerky), selling directly to consumers, providing agritourism/recreational services, and using renewable energy producing systems (such as solar panels, wind turbines, and biodiesel). The number of farms engaged in these activities increased from 2007 to 2012, with the largest growth in farms with renewable energy producing systems. In 2012, about 57,000 U.S. farms produced renewable energy, more than double the number in 2007. By 2012, 63 percent of renewable energy producing farms had installed solar panels, which drives this increase. The number of farms that had income from agritourism/recreation increased over the 5-year period by 42 percent, with the largest increase in smaller agritourism farms with annual receipts under $5,000. In 2012, the top States in the share of farms producing and selling value-added products were Vermont (14 percent), New Hampshire (13 percent), and Maine and Rhode Island (with 11 percent each). This chart updates one from the ERS report, Farm Activities Associated With Rural Development Initiatives, ERR-134, May 2012.

Farms involved in rural development related activities vary by type of activity

Thursday, September 1, 2016

While rural development efforts generally focus on the nonfarm economy in the United States, over the last 10 years, several USDA Rural Development programs have put increased emphasis on funding farm-related business activities associated with renewable energy, local/regional food industries, and the use of farm and ranch natural resources. Using data from the 2007 Agricultural Resource Management Survey, the characteristics of farms involved in organic farming, value-added agriculture, direct marketing, agritourism, and energy/electricity production are compared in this chart. Household wealth and income are important indicators of financial capacity, or the ability to make financial investments in farm activities. Average farm household net worth was highest for agritourism farms ($2.0 million) and lowest for direct marketing farms ($631,000). Total household income exhibited a different pattern and was highest for energy/electricity farms ($165,000 annually) and value-added farms ($90,000 annually), on average. The income generated by these rural development-related activities is considered part of farm income (which was highest, on average, for energy/electricity and organic farms, and negative for agritourism farms).?This chart comes from the ERS report, Farm Activities Associated With Rural Development Initiatives, ERR-134, May 2012.

Local and regional food marketing channels find new support in the 2014 Farm Act

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The 2014 Farm Act provides support for local and regional foods across several titles, including nutrition, horticulture, credit, and rural development. Support includes increased consumer access to and marketing of locally and regionally produced food, both via farmer direct-to-consumer outlets and intermediated outlets (e.g., regional distributors, local retailers, or restaurant sales). In particular, the Farmers? Market and Local Food Promotion Program?s increase in mandatory funding could increase opportunities in the entire local and regional food-supply chain now that intermediaries, including food hubs, can participate. In 2008 (the latest year of analysis available), most local and regional foods were marketed through intermediated channels. Prior to the 2014 Farm Act, support was aimed at local and regional food producers participating in direct-to-consumer sales, rather than those relying on intermediated marketing channels. This chart was adapted from one appearing in the Local and Regional Foods page of Agricultural Act of 2014: Highlights and Implications on the ERS website.

Nearly half of all organic farms sell through local food markets

Thursday, September 1, 2016

In 2012, fewer than 5 percent of farms with local food sales were organic farms (either certified organic, or certification-exempt farms because annual organic sales were under $5,000). However, nearly half (46 percent) of all organic farms sold food commodities through direct-to-consumer outlets (such as farmers? markets and community supported agriculture arrangements), and/or through intermediated marketing channels (such as restaurants and retail outlets). Over the 2007-12 period, direct-to-consumer outlets continued to be the most frequently used local food marketing channel for selling organic?41 percent of organic farms used this marketing channel in 2007 versus 39 percent in 2012. Certification-exempt farms, which often tend to be very small and/or beginning farmers, are also more likely to rely on local markets. In 2012, they were twice as likely as certified organic farms to use direct-to-consumer outlets (63 percent versus 32 percent). This chart is found in Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress, January 2015.

Marketing channels for locally grown food

Thursday, September 1, 2016

USDA's 2008 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) measured local food sales by asking farm operators whether they sold directly to consumers at farmers' markets, roadside stands, onfarm stores, and community-supported agriculture or through intermediated sales to local grocers, restaurants, and regional distributors during the year. When intermediated sales are combined with farmers' direct-to-consumer sales, the size of the U.S. local food market was $4.8 billion in 2008. Over half of local food sales-$2.7 billion-were from farms selling local foods exclusively through intermediated marketing channels. Farms using both direct-to-consumer and intermediated marketing channels accounted for a quarter of local food sales ($1.2 billion). This chart is found in the December 2011 issue of Amber Waves magazine.

Market penetration by farmers' markets varies geographically

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Farmers? markets are a significant source of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, and other items sold directly from the producer or farmer to U.S. consumers. Data from August 2012 show that across much of the United States the number of farmers? markets continues to grow. Since 2009, counties that showed the largest increase in the number of farmers? markets per capita tended to be near urban areas, particularly along the East and West coasts and in the historically industrialized parts of the Midwest. But counties where the number has declined relative to population are often adjacent to or surrounded by those that showed the largest growth, suggesting that these local markets are dynamic and heterogeneous despite their geographic similarities. Areas where the density of these markets relative to population is the most stable tend to be in the most sparsely populated parts of the country, likely reflecting a population density too small to make new or additional markets economically viable. This map is from ERS?s Food Environment Atlas.

Proportion of SNAP-accepting farmers' markets varies across U.S. regions

Thursday, September 1, 2016

In recent years, the number of farmers? markets that accept benefits from USDA?s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has grown?more than tripling between fiscal 2008 and 2012 and making it possible for more SNAP participants to use their benefits to acquire fruits, vegetables, and other local foods from these markets. Of the 8,158 farmers? markets in the U.S. in 2013, 2,046 reported accepting SNAP, according to USDA?s National Farmers Market Directory.? This translates to a national average of 25 percent of farmers? markets, but the proportion of SNAP-accepting markets is not uniform across regions.? In 156 counties, all farmers? markets reported accepting SNAP benefits and in 242 counties, over half of farmers? markets reported accepting SNAP.? In 1,444 counties (66 percent of counties with at least one farmers? market), no farmers? market reported accepting SNAP. Areas in the Northeast, Southwest, and along the West Coast tend to display a relatively high percentage of farmers? markets that report accepting SNAP. This chart is among the new maps in ERS?s Food Environment Atlas, updated on February 18, 2014.

Number of U.S. farmers' markets continues to rise

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A farmers? market is a common area where several farmers gather on a recurring basis to sell a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other farm products directly to consumers. The number of farmers? markets rose to 8,284 in 2014, up from 3,706 in 2004 and 1,755 in 1994, according to USDA?s Agricultural Marketing Service. Farmers? markets tend to be concentrated in densely populated areas of the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast. Generally, farmers? markets feature items from local food systems, although depending on the definition of ?local,? some vendors may come from outside the local region, and some local vendors may not sell locally-produced products. The growing number of farmers? markets could reflect increased demand for local and regional food products based on consumer perceptions of their freshness and quality, support for the local economy, environmental benefits, or other perceived attributes relative to food from traditional marketing channels. This chart updates one found in the ERS report, Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues, ERR-97, May 2010.

Food assistance program provides low-income seniors with coupons for farmers' markets

Thursday, September 1, 2016

USDA?s Senior Farmers? Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides low-income seniors?people age 60 and older with household incomes at or below 185 percent of the Federal poverty level?with coupons to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey at farmers? markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs. In fiscal 2013, 835,795 low-income seniors received $20 to $50 in coupons. Of the 8,158 farmers? markets in the United States in 2013, 2,330 reported accepting SFMNP, according to USDA?s National Farmers' Market Directory. In 396 of the more than 3,000 U.S. counties, over half of farmers? markets reported accepting SFMNP coupons, and in another 295 counties, 26 to 50 percent of farmers? markets reported accepting SFMNP. Areas in the Northeast, Southwest, and along the West Coast have a relatively high percent of farmers? markets that accept SFMNP coupons. This chart appears in ?Food Assistance Program Connects Low-Income Seniors with Fresh Farm Produce? in the August 2014 issue of ERS?s Amber Waves magazine.

Number of U.S. farmers markets has nearly tripled over the last 15 years

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A farmers? market is a common area where several farmers gather on a recurring basis to sell fresh produce and other farm products directly to consumers. The number of farmers? markets rose to 8,476 in 2015, up from 2,863 in 2000 and 1,755 in 1994, according to USDA?s Agricultural Marketing Service. Farmers? markets tend to be concentrated in densely populated areas of the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast. Generally, farmers? markets feature items from local food systems, although depending on the definition of ?local,? some vendors may come from outside the local region, and some local vendors may not sell locally produced products. The growing number of farmers? markets could reflect increased demand for local and regional food products based on consumer perceptions of their freshness and quality, support for the local economy, environmental benefits, or other perceived attributes relative to food from traditional marketing channels. This chart updates one found in the ERS report, Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues, ERR-97, May 2010.

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