Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems

The latest (2012) USDA numbers show that almost 8% of all US farmers are selling ‘local food’, with 70% of those selling direct-to-consumer (DTC). ERS census data analysis shows that 85% of these ‘local food farms’ have gross sales below $75,000 (US). The number of farms joining these ranks is slowing, as are the direct sales, which totalled an estimated $6.1 billion in 2012. However, farms with DTC sales are more likely to stay in operation than all farms not using DTC sales.

One cloud on the horizon: new ‘Produce safety’ and ‘Preventive controls’ rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) may disproportionately affect these ‘local food’ farms. “DTC farms apply more manure than all non-DTC farms and thus could be disproportionately affected by any FSMA regulations on the application of biological soil amendments”. Read more

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