The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition provides a summary of what the NEW Agriculture Census reveals: Read here. While the word census sounds dull – imagine a SNAPSHOT of LOCAL FOOD, and BEGINNING FARMERS, and FOOD,
Who is The National Sustainable Ag Coalition? The NSAC is a coalition of organizations that advocates for federal policy reform for the sustainability of food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. Berkshire Grown participates in the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group which works with NSAC.
The NSAC summary on Organic Food and Local Food is here and the section on Local Food is copied below:
& for “What does the new ag Census reveal about the next generation of farmers and the future of agriculture?” click
Direct to Consumer Agriculture
Sales of agricultural products through direct-to-consumer outlets such as farmers markets and roadside stands have grown rapidly over the last decade. In the 2002 Census, direct-to-consumer sales equaled $812 million, climbing to $1.3 billion in the 2012 Census, an increase of 60 percent. Additionally, the number of farms selling directly to consumers has increased from 116,733 in 2002 to 144,530 in 2012. When compared with the 2007 Census, the current Census shows an increase of 8 percent for the number of farms selling directly to consumers and 5 percent for the sales in dollars of directly marketed agricultural products.
Direct to Retail and Value-Added
For the first time, the 2012 Census provides a more detailed glimpse into local food marketing, providing categories such as direct-to-retail marketing, production and sales of value-added commodities, and marketing through community supported agriculture (CSAs).
For CSAs and direct-to-retailer marketing, many of the top 10 states, such as California, Wisconsin, New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, were the same ones that were among the top 10 states for the number of organic farms or organic sales. In the direct-to-retailer category, however, southern states also make a strong showing, with Texas, North Carolina and Virginia making the top 10 list, while Texas and North Carolina round out the top three states after California for CSA marketing. In the production and sales of value-added commodities, the southern states dominate, with Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia among the top ten states.
The Importance of Data: Local Data Initiative and Organic Data Initiative
All farmers, regardless of production practices and supply chains, need sound market information about the state of agriculture, consumer trends, government assistance programs, and the agricultural products they produce to understand the shortfalls and opportunities in the agricultural marketplace and to maintain and strengthen the viability of their farms. The 2014 Farm Bill provides several ways for USDA to collect valuable data to help not just farmers, but farming-related and food businesses, policymakers, and planners make sound policy, business, and marketing decisions. NSAC, along with allies and partners, advocated for the following Farm Bill data initiatives:
- Organic Production and Market Data Initiative funds basic data collection activities on organic agriculture. NSAC helped to ensure a restoration of $5 million in mandatory funding in the 2014 Farm Bill.
Additionally, the recent farm bill directs USDA agencies that collect data on the organic sector to coordinate with agencies that may be able to use the data, such as the Risk Management Agency’s need for data on organic crop prices. This pricing information would allow them to develop better crop insurance policies that reflect the organic premium and more fairly and effectively cover the costs to producers of organic crop loss.
- Local Food Production and Program Evaluation Initiative is a new initiative that directs USDA to collect data on the production and marketing of locally or regionally produced agricultural products, monitor the effectiveness of programs designed to expand local food systems, and identify barriers to local and regional market access due to regulations aimed at small-scale producers. While NSAC is pleased that the initiative, which we championed in the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, made it into the final Farm Bill, we are disappointed that no farm bill funding was provided for these additional data collection activities. The launch of this critical new data initiative will depend on funding being secured through either the annual appropriations process or a future farm bill.