Jan 26, 2017
USDA releases results of first local foods survey

More than 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food through direct marketing practices, resulting in $8.7 billion in revenue in 2015, according to the results from the first Local Food Marketing Practices Survey released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The report results cover both fresh and value-added foods, such as meat and cheese.

Farms selling food directly to institutions and intermediates, such as wholesalers who locally branded the product or food hubs, brought in the most revenue at $3.4 billion. The next category, at $3 billion in sales, was from approximately 115,000 operations with direct-to-consumer sales, such as on-farm stores and farmers markets. Sales directly to retailers were $2.3 billion from over 23,000 operations nationwide.

The top five states by value of total direct food sales were:

  • California, $2,869 million
  • Michigan, $459 million
  • New York, $441 million
  • Pennsylvania, $439 million
  • Wisconsin, $431 million

Most farms selling directly to consumers sold through outlets such as farmers markets and on-farm stores. Pennsylvania led the U.S. in the number of farms selling directly to consumers, with more than 6,000 operations engaged in direct to consumer sales. California led in sales, earning $467 million. Only 8 percent of farms selling directly to consumers across the nation did so via online marketplaces, though 73 percent of all farms using direct marketing practices had internet access last year.

The survey also concluded that more than 80 percent of all direct market food sales occurred within 100 miles of the farm, and that most farms selling to consumers were less than 20 miles from their largest grossing marketplace.

Approximately 300,000 people were involved in making decisions for the farms that sold directly in 2015. Of these, 62 percent were men and 38 percent were women – a higher proportion of women than among all farms, according to data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The survey also found that 77 percent of farms who direct marketed were established farmers, having farmed 10 or more years, and that 14 percent were U.S. military veterans.

The Local Food Marketing Practices Survey was conducted in cooperation with USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative. You can find local and regional supply chain resources on the KYF2 website and use the KYF2 Compass to locate USDA investments in your community.

For additional survey results, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/Local_Food/index.php or the Quick Stats database at https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov.

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