WASHINGTON, Dec.20, 2016 – California, the nation’s biggest agricultural state, is also tops – by a long shot – when it comes to farmers selling their products through direct marketing practices.
That’s according to the results from USDA’s first Local Food Marketing Practices Survey which were released today by the department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
The survey shows that more than 167,000 U.S. farms produced and sold food through direct marketing practices worth $8.7 billion in revenue in 2015. California accounted for nearly a third of the total – $2.869 billion – way ahead of Michigan ($459 million), New York ($441 million), Pennsylvania ($439 million) and Wisconsin ($431 million). The survey results cover both fresh and value-added foods, such as meat and cheese.
In announcing plans for the survey in April, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said industry estimates, which included intermediated sales, put the value of the local foods market at nearly $12 billion in 2014. And he said this information was used to “inform support for local and regional food systems” in the 2014 farm bill. “Now, as communities are using these programs to help grow the local food sector, this new survey will help show where the sector is today and help identify future needs,” he said.
The survey shows that farms selling food directly to institutions and intermediates, such as food hubs or wholesalers who locally branded the product, 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.
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.
NASS said that 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 USDA’s 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 2015 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey is the first-ever survey conducted by NASS to produce benchmark data about local food marketing practices. This 2012 Census of Agriculture special study provides data on the marketing of locally and regionally produced agricultural food products, as directed under the 2014 farm bill.
For additional survey results, including results by region and individual states, visit:
www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/Local_Food/index.php or the Quick Stats database at https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov .