August 4, 2011
On July 20, 2011, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack proclaimed August 7th to the 13th, 2011 as National Farmers Market Week. This marks the twelfth year that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proclaimed a National Farmers Market Week.
All across the country next week, non-profit organizations, USDA agencies, farmers, and consumers will be celebrating farmers markets and the people who make them possible. For instance, NSAC member organization Farm Aid will be hosting a panel discussion on farmers markets at the upcoming Farm Aid concert in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas Rural Center will also be hosting events during Farmers Market Week.
Farmers markets are a critical piece of any local food system. They provide important market opportunities for farmers to sell their agricultural products, helping to sustain the livelihoods of family farms and rural communities. They also provide consumers with the opportunity to purchase some of the freshest, healthiest and highest quality fruits, vegetables, and value-added products like freshly baked breads, fruit preserves, cheeses, milk and other dairy products. Yes, we’re getting hungry, too!
The Farmers Market Coalition, an NSAC member group, has a number of resources on their website to help farmers, market managers, consumers and non-profit organizations celebrate and promote National Farmers Market Week. You can download these resources on their Market Up Campaign webpage.
NSAC has been a long-time advocate for and supporter of farmers markets and direct marketing opportunities for agricultural producers. Our Marketing, Food System and Rural Development Committee has successfully developed and advocated for federal programs that are critical to the continued success of farmers markets, including the Farmers Market Promotion Program.
NSAC also helped shepherd into law the Tester-Hagan Amendment in the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, which protects small and mid-sized farm operators – many of whom sell their products at farmers markets – from one-size fits all food safety rules and regulations.
We’ll be enjoying our local farmers markets next week and we hope you will too!