Aug. 2-7 will be the 2015 National Farmers Market Week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.
2015 marks the 16th year the week has been celebrated in honor of the role of markets in local economies. Throughout the week, USDA will celebrate thousands of our nation's farmers markets, the farmers and ranchers who make them possible and the communities that host them.
"National Farmers Market Week is a great opportunity for farmers markets across the country to host special events to showcase all the tremendous services they provide," Vilsack said. "Farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support farmers and help grow rural economies. They bring communities together, connecting cities with the farms and providing Americans with fresh, healthy food."
On Saturday, Aug. 1, Anne Alonzo, the Administrator of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service will kick off the week at the Santa Fe Farmers Market in New Mexico. The Santa Fe Farmers Market is the oldest in New Mexico and is ranked as one of the top ten farmers markets nationwide.
USDA says farmers markets provide consumers with fresh, affordable, convenient, and healthy products from local producers.
With support from USDA, more farmers markets offer customers the opportunity to make purchases with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program; and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs.
The agency said last month that more SNAP recipients are redeeming their benefits at farm stands and markets, to the tune of $18.8 million in FY 2014 alone. Since 2008, the number of SNAP-authorized farmers, roadside farm stands, and farmers markets grew from 753 to more than 6,400.
In 2014, more than 8,200 farmers markets were entered in the USDA National Farmers Market Directory – a 76% increase since 2008. New data is likely to be released on the directory at the start of National Farmers Market Week.
USDA also manages a National Community-Supported Agriculture Enterprise Directory, a National On-Farm Market Directory and a National Food Hub Directory.
Supporting farmers markets is a part of the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the Department's policy, resources, and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems.