Farmers markets good for America
Farmers markets are becoming more common not only in Iowa, but also across the nation. They are an important source of attractively priced, nutritious food. With that in mind, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has issued a proclamation designating Aug. 7-13 as National Farmers Market Week.
“Farmers markets are an important part of strong local and regional food systems that connect farmers with new customers and grow rural economies. In many areas, they are also expanding access to fresh, healthy food for people of all income levels,” Vilsack said in a statement urging Americans to celebrate and honor these marketplaces during a week designed to highlight “their role in supporting both urban and rural communities.”
The USDA has been a strong champion of farmers markets for many years. The department’s effort to promote these local enterprises is part of its “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative. According to the USDA, the overall mission of that project is “to develop strong local and regional food systems.”
Helping farmers and ranchers take advantage of the growing demand for locally produced food is an important part of the USDA’s game plan. While most Iowans are already somewhat familiar with farmer markets, they may not realize how significant the consumer demand for locally grown foods is becoming. The USDA’s statement announcing National Farmers Market Week said that industry analysts put its monetary value at $12 billion for 2014. That seems likely to keep growing in the years ahead.
Farm News applauds the USDA for its strong, multifaceted support of farmers markets. These efforts help the agricultural economy in the Hawkeye State and elsewhere. They also contribute to a healthier population by improving consumer access to fresh produce.
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