Animal Welfare Approved

Farmers’ Markets on the Rise

Grazing Angus Acres' farmers' market stand at New York City's Greenmarket

Grazing Angus Acres' farmers' market stand at New York City's Greenmarket

In 1994 the USDA counted 1,755 farmers markets in the United States. At last count, there were 4,685. Across the nation, direct marketing is increasing twice as fast as total agricultural sales (USDA Agricultural Marketing Service). President Obama just announced that he wants to start a farmers’ market at the White House.

So, what's all the fuss about farmers' markets? One of the main reasons is that farmers and consumers actually get to meet each other. Food usually travels hundreds, even thousands of miles to get from farm to table, making face-to-face contact between eaters and growers an all-too-rare event. However, the recent wave of farmers' markets opening across the nation is changing that. President Obama also explained the possible health and economic benefits of his proposed D.C. farmers' market: “[It] is a win-win situation. It gives…D.C. more access to good, fresh food, but it also is this enormous potential revenue maker for local farmers in the area.” This touches on one of the other great things about farmers markets: the farmer gets to keep the entire retail dollar of his or her product (after taxes, of course). Outside of direct marketing, the average farmer keeps just 20 cents of each retail food dollar (according to the USDA Economic Research Service), with the remainder going to processors, distributors and retailers.

Care2.org and LocalHarvest.org are hosting a farmers' market popularity contest, “Love Your Farmers' Market” in which farmers, customers and fans can vote for their favorite market. Winner gets $5,000, with cash prizes for second through fifth place. At the time of this post, two of the top five markets have Animal Welfare Approved farmers as regular vendors! To cast your vote for your favorite farmers market, go to care2.com/farmersmarket/.

Vote by September 17, 2009 to get yours counted!

2 thoughts on “Farmers’ Markets on the Rise

  1. tj says:

    …Hello, I happened upon your blog via your website where I was learning more about your organization. My concern of course is that animals are treated humanely on the farm but you read stories of the “perfect farm” raising grass fed, happy, free ranging animals only to have the cows, pigs, chickens, etc., going off to a slaughterhouse where they are, as you know, many times tortured before death. The reason I am contacting you is I would like to know how to find out where the meat I buy is processed and how to know if the slaughterhouse is regulated and considered a “humane slaughterhouse”, if there is such a thing.

    …Thank you. And thank you for providing a wealth of information to consumers – it is priceless!

    …Blessings…

  2. TJ,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    You make an excellent point, and one that is often overlooked. To find out where an animal was processed just look at the label – it legally has to contain the establishment number of the processing plant. You can search the FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) Meat, Poultry and Egg Product Inspection Directory by establishment number for plant location, contact information and type of establishment. There is a public record of reported humane handling violations but you will have to submit a “Freedom of Information Act Request” to FSIS and pay the associated fees for the retrieval of that information. It is worth noting, however, that an absence of reported violations does not necessarily guarantee humane practices.

    Our program covers the lives of animals from birth through slaughter. We visit each and every plant used by farmers in the Animal Welfare Approved program at least annually. We have a full time staff member whose job it is to audit and work with plants. Keep checking in as we are constantly updating our vendor database to include more farmers markets, retailers and farms offering meat, dairy and eggs from high-welfare family farmers.

    There are write-ups about slaughter plants in both our Spring 2009 and Summer 2009 newsletters which you might want to read to learn more about this. http://www.animalwelfareapproved.org/about/newsletters/.

    Thanks for your comment,

    The Animal Welfare Approved Team

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