The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its results for the first nationwide Local Food Marketing Practices Survey Tuesday. The survey was designed to collect data related to the marketing of foods directly from farms and produce official benchmark data on the local food sector in the United States.
In 2015, 4,148 Tennessee farms reported direct farm sales of food, including value-added products, bringing in a combined $58,720,441. Tennessee ranks 15th in the United States in the number of farms selling foods locally.
“We know that many people care about what they eat and want to know where their food comes from,” Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton said. “This survey shows what that farmer-to-consumer relationship is worth in Tennessee. I’m proud to see our state rank 15th in the nation for the number of farms that sell local foods. As more people learn about that impact and value, I believe new customers will seek out farm-fresh options and push Tennessee even higher up the list.”
A further breakdown of data shows:
Direct Farm Sales*
Total farms, excluding value-added products: 1,648
Total sales, excluding value-added products: $29,143,351
Total farms, only value-added products: 2,954
Total sales, only value-added products: $29,577,090
Direct to Consumer Sales**
Total farms, including value-added products: 3,748
Total sales, including value-added products: $41,413,614
“The number of farms selling directly to consumers increased more than 500 in the three years since the Census of Agriculture data,” said Debra Kenerson, Tennessee state statistician. “This shows tremendous growth in a short period of time. With $58 million in total sales, it’s also a real opportunity for more farmers to capitalize on the buy local movement.”
In the United States 167,009 farms reported selling $8.7 billion in edible food directly to consumers, retailers, institutions and local distributors.
*Direct farm sales of food (crops and livestock raised on Tennessee farms) includes farms selling to:
· Institutions and intermediary businesses (schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, wholesalers, processors, distributors)
· Retailers (grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, food cooperatives)
· Direct to consumers
**Direct to consumer sales, a subset of direct farm sales, include:
· Farmers markets, onsite farm stores, roadside stands, Community Supported Agriculture arrangements, online sales, pick-your-own operations, and mobile markets.
Sales categories include both fresh food and value-added products (edible processed foods) such as bottled milk, cheese, meat, jam, cider, and wine.
For a full breakdown of all the data, visit https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/Online_Resources/Local_Food/index.php. For more information, call Debra Kenerson at (615) 891-0903, or (800) 626-0987.