Missouri Farmers Market Director Presents at Senate Briefing

Jen O'Brien March 1, 2012

Missouri Farmers Market Director Presents at Senate Briefing Today, March 1st, Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) member Caroline Todd, Director of the Columbia Farmer’s Market (CFM) in Boone County, Missouri appeared at a Senate Agriculture Committee briefing to explain how the market had used a United States Department of Agriculture Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant…

USDA Releases Case Studies and Mapping Tool of Local and Regional Food Projects

Liz Comiskey February 29, 2012

  Today, at 2:00 pm, U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the launch of a new online resource that aggregates USDA supported local and regional food projects into a searchable map and database.  The Know Your Farmer Know Your Food site also features stories, case studies, and videos of successful local and…

Action Alert: These two bills need your support!

Liz Comiskey February 27, 2012

Dear Friends, Today, FMC wants call your attention to two marker bills in Congress relevant to farmers markets that could be included in the Farm Bill. As you know, producers are responding to skyrocketing demand for local food by increasing production, creating new markets, and launching new businesses.  Locally marketed foods accounted for an estimated…

Taking Stock and Finding Purpose

Liz Comiskey January 18, 2012

Here at the dawn of 2012, farmers markets have their work cut out for them in the year ahead. We’ve seen exponential growth in a) the number of markets (a 50% increase since 2008, according to the USDA), b) the degree to which they’re open in winter months, and c) the proportion of SNAP benefits that participants are choosing to redeem at farmers markets. All this throughout what is often called the Great Recession. No doubt, being part of one of the fastest growing parts of food economy (one which, I might add, also builds social and natural wealth) is worth celebrating!

Can the growth in numbers like these be rubber-stamped as a ‘Mission Accomplished,’ allowing us to proudly declare that we’ve achieved success?

Looking Ahead to the Farm Bill: Winter Policy Update

Liz Comiskey

Educating lawmakers about the impacts of markets in their communities is a crucial civic responsibility for those who care about seeing farmers markets thrive, and Senators and Representatives need to be hearing about them regularly — from home as well as in their Washington offices. Improving public policy is a long-term effort, and one in which we cannot afford to wait until the last minute to engage.

USDA Food and Nutrition Services Embarks on Landmark Study

Liz Comiskey

This unprecedented survey, launched on January 3rd, seeks responses from 3,000 randomly selected farmers market managers and direct marketing farmers around the nation. FMC encourages anyone who has received one of these surveys to take the time to fill it out thoughtfully, either on the paper version received through the mail or through this link. According to Kelly Kinnison, PhD, Social Science Research Analyst at the USDA FNS Office of Research and Analysis, the information gleaned from this comprehensive survey “will be vital to better understanding the characteristics, logistics, opportunities, and challenges of operating federal nutrition programs at farmers markets.”

SNAP Redemptions at Farmers Markets Exceed $11 Million in 2011

Liz Comiskey

Between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011, more than $11,725,316 in SNAP benefits were redeemed at farmers markets, increasing more than $4 million in one year. As overall SNAP redemptions increased 11% between 2010 and 2011, from $64.7 billion to $71.8 billion, SNAP redemptions at farmers markets increased by 55%. Thus, growth in SNAP redemption in farmers markets cannot solely be accounted for by persistent unemployment, more widespread eligibility for the program, and increases in federal SNAP spending. Of the $64,704,407,189 in SNAP dollars redeemed in 2010, .014% was redeemed at farmers markets– a rate that increased to .016% in 2011. These numbers, though they represent a very small piece of the pie, do demonstrate growth.

FMC Seeks Member Volunteers to Guide Education and Policy Efforts

Liz Comiskey

Are you passionate about taking farmers markets to the next level, and ready to play a more active role in FMC’s educational and policy initiatives? This winter, the Farmers Market Coalition Board of Directors seeks up to ten members to serve one of two FMC Standing Committees that guide important mission areas. Up to five volunteer slots for experienced and passionate FMC members are available on both the Policy & Advocacy Committee and the Education Committee. Committee members will participate in monthly conference calls to develop resources for members and board members.

The Future of the Farmers Market Promotion Program

Liz Comiskey January 17, 2012

In many communities, farmers markets sprout from grassroots community efforts as stakeholders come together with a vision of a community gathering place that simultaneously supports farming as a viable occupation, builds local economies, and increases availability of healthful, locally-produced foods. FMPP provides critical capacity-building resources for these efforts. In addition, it offers important support to farmers markets who need assistance to effectively implement, promote, and redeem federal nutrition benefits.

Empowering Evaluation: FMC to Partner with University of Virginia on Interdisciplinary Course on Researching Farmers Markets

Liz Comiskey

This summer, FMC will be collaborating with the University of Virginia on a two week course called Farmers Markets and Applied Food Systems Research (PLAC 5501) as part of the Morven Summer Institute. This seminar will provide an introduction to food systems research with a focus on farmers markets. Students will gain practical experience in applied data gathering and analysis, building a set of skills that can be applied in studying farmers markets throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. A roster of guest lecturers, developed in collaboration with the national Farmers Market Coalition, will include researchers, policy makers, farmers market managers, and farmers.