Farmers markets are good for America

Farmers markets are becoming more common not only in Iowa, but also across the nation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture took note of that development be proclaiming this week National Farmers Market Week.

In his proclamation, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue took note of the contribution to the U.S. economy of these convenient outlets for local producers, which he placed at about $9 billion each year.

“(They) serve as significant outlets by which small-to-medium, new and beginning, and veteran agricultural producers market agricultural products, generating revenue that supports the sustainability of family farms and the revitalization of rural communities nationwide,” Perdue’s proclamation said.

According to the USDA, there are more than 8,000 farmers markets listed in the department’s National Farmers Market Directory — published online at farmersmarkets.usda.gov. That’s a dramatic increase in the last few years. The USDA estimates that as recently as 2008 only about 5,000 markets qualified for this listing.

The USDA is working aggressively to promote local and regional marketing opportunities for producers. That’s good news for farmers everywhere. It’s also beneficial to the general public because the USDA – through the directory and other measures — is helping to inform consumers about the economic and health advantages of patronizing farmers markets.

The Times-Republican applauds the USDA for its strong, multifaceted support of farmers markets. These efforts help the agricultural economy in the Hawkeye State and elsewhere. They also contribute to a healthier population by improving consumer access to fresh produce. We urge our readers to patronize these important local outlets for agricultural products.