Monday, September 26, 2011

Farmers' markets boost local economies, but sometimes there are too many too close

Over 1,000 new farmers' markets have been added to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2011 national directory, reports Cara Bayles of Houma Today in Louisiana. The 17 percent increase from last year is attributed to state initiatives and incentive programs like "Louisiana Grown," Bayles reports. (New York Times photo by Matthew Cavanaugh)

Louisiana Grown is a marketing campaign, similar to those in other states, to promote local specialty crops. As a part of the state's initiatives, the Louisiana Buy Local Purchase Incentive Program gives local restaurants a 4 percent rebate on purchases of local produce, dairy and seafood, Bayles reports.

Farmers' markets are good for local economies, according to a Mississippi State University study that suggests farmers' markets keep money flowing in the state. "For every dollar spent at a Mississippi farmers' market, the study states, 41.33 cents stayed in the region for a second transaction," Bayles reports.

Some farmers say "new markets have lured away loyal customers and cut into profits" or cost them more time and money because "they must add markets to their weekly rotation to earn the same money they did a few years ago," Katie Zezima of The New York Times reports.

A study by Oregon State University found that 32 of the 62 farmers' markets that opened in Oregon from 1998 to 2005 failed. Stacy Miller, executive director of the Farmers' Market Coalition, a nonprofit organization that supports the markets, says they can become over-saturated due to insufficient "planning to ensure the demand is keeping up with the supply." (Read more)

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