Seven Questions You Always Wanted to Ask About the USDA National Farmers Market Directory

      Posted On: April 14, 2010

Since 1994, the USDA has been counting farmers markets via the USDA National Farmers Market Directory. The Directory is an annual count of operational farmers markets across the country. With help from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, FMC was able to find some answers to some basic questions about the Directory.

Time to Count the Beans

What do the numbers 1,755; 4,685; and 5,274 have in common?

1,755 was the number of farmers markets the USDA National Farmers Market Directory counted in 1994. 4,685 was the number of markets counted in 2008 and 5,274 was the number of markets in 2009.  300 would be another good number to add here, as the Directory demonstrated that the number of farmers markets went up over 300% in 15 years.

Who uses the USDA National Farmers Market Directory?

Everybody.  Consumers use it to find farmers markets in their areas.  Researchers, non-profits, and academics use it to analyze the farmers market industry. The USDA uses the Directory to chart growth, allocate resources, help anchor the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative which is dedicated to building stronger local and regional food systems.  Congress uses it when considering policy that impacts farmers markets.  The press uses it when talking about the growth of farmers markets.  The Directory is a primary resource for the innovative Food Environmental Atlas, a remarkable tool that charts the relationship between healthy food access and public health outcomes county by county.   This Atlas – and the Directory – were even cited by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Let’s Move initiative to fight childhood obesity.

How do I get my market listed?

If you are market manager, a representative of a State based farmers market association, from a State Department of Agriculture, or are with a managing organization of farmers markets, begin to register your market at  It’s an easy process, and will only take a few moments.  If your market has been listed in past Directories, you may hear from the USDA directly about how you can update previously submitted information.  If your market is new, or you are new to the Directory, all it takes is filling out a simple questionnaire.

What information does the Directory collect?

The Directory collects information about where markets operate, what they sell, and how they run.  It also collects information about markets with federal assistance programs like SNAP (Supplemental Food Assistance Program), WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and SFMNP (Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program).  This year, knowing that winter markets are becoming more and more popular, the Directory will also be collecting information about markets’ seasonality.

When do I need to list my market?

The sooner the better, but the deadline is May 14, 2010.

When will the 2010 Directory be released?

The 2010 Farmers Market Directory will be released in late summer, 2010 –at the height of the market season. It will be a time to celebrate the power, strength and tenacity of farmers markets coast to coast.

Does the USDA National Farmer s Market Directory have anything to do with the National Farmers Market Manager Survey?

Yes. And No.  No in that the Farmers Market Manager Survey is a separate in-depth survey of farmers markets based on the experiences of active market managers.  The last one was done in 2006, and the next one is underway now.   But yes in that the Survey relies on the Directory as a primary source for basic information about farmers markets and all the market managers listed in the Directory will be invited to participate in the Survey.  If your market is not in the Directory, it will not receive a Survey.  And an incomplete Survey is a lost opportunity for the USDA, and for you, to better understand the operations and needs of farmers markets.  Market managers will be getting more information about the Survey soon.

How many farmers markets will be included in the 2010 USDA Farmers Market Directory?

Anyone’s guess.  What’s yours?