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The Price is Right: Local Beef Reporting in Vermont

There’s no doubt about it – gears are turning in the world of local food production.  From rural communities to large food retailers, local and regional food is a growing business across the country.  In the USDA’s Market News division, developing market reports to keep up with the growing need for local food data is a priority for us.

Following Secretary Tom Vilsack’s lead to ramp up local and regional food efforts, USDA Market News – part of the Agricultural Marketing Service – issues a local beef report for the state of Vermont each month.  Two Market News reporters from Pennsylvania ventured to the Green Mountain State to meet with existing customers and recruit new ones.  Trekking all throughout the state, they visited a total of 10 farms, talked to numerous people about grass-fed beef, and learned about how Market News can better serve this sector of the industry.

Big Data for Small Producers - USDA Market News Now Covers 85 Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are an important part of local and regional food systems.  Nationwide, 150,000 farmers and ranchers are selling their products directly to consumers to meet the growing demand for local food.  Many sell their products at farmers markets, which can be a catalyst for future growth. 

According to USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, there are over 8,400 farmers markets across the country serving as community gathering places where America’s food producers are building successful businesses and bringing fresh, local food to their communities.  As local and regional food systems continue to expand, so does the need for reliable market data.

USDA Fosters Market Transparency in Grass Fed Lamb and Goat Industry

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, there are over five million head of sheep and lambs in the United States, and over 2.6 million head of goats. A growing trend is producing these animals using grass fed production systems, especially for small to mid-sized producers.  

In response to the changing and widening marketplace, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will begin releasing the National Monthly Grass Fed Lamb and Goat Meat report through their USDA Market News service today, Wednesday, May 13, 2015.  This is one of the first reports of its kind, filling a significant data gap for the industry and increasing transparency in the marketplace.

USDA Continues to Expand Local and Regional Market Data

Are you in the market for data covering locally and regionally produced agricultural products?  You are not alone.  Consumer demand for local and regional food products continues to soar, with retail sales at an estimated $6.1 billion in 2012.  Thanks to support from the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA Market News created a series of market reports on locally or regionally produced agricultural products. 

USDA Market News – administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – provides unbiased, reliable data that serves as the information lifeline for America’s agricultural economy.  The reports for local and regional food outlets – available on the Local & Regional Food Marketing Information webpage – provide farmers, agricultural businesses, and consumers with a one-stop-shop for market and pricing information.

100 Years of USDA Market News: The Trusted Source - Then, Now and Always

Have you ever wondered how American farmers and businesses track the price of their commodities?  Today, farmers, ranchers, and the entire agricultural supply chain turn to USDA Market News – administered by my agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – for timely, reliable, unbiased data that serves as the information lifeline for America’s agricultural economy.

But 100 years ago, everyone was in the dark about how much things cost.  That’s why, in 1915, the first USDA Market News report was sent by telegraph, letting buyers and sellers across the country know the price of strawberries in Hammond, Louisiana.

New Day, Same Mission: The Evolution of SNAP

This fall, USDA is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Food Stamp Act of 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which made the Food Stamp Program permanent.  In looking back over the past 50 years, there are two notable events in the program’s history that had a significant impact on the transformation of the original Food Stamp Program in 1964 to the program we know today as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

First, the Food Stamp Act of 1977 was a major program milestone, because it established national eligibility standards for participation and eliminated the purchase requirement for food stamps.  The new standards meant that the amount of benefits a household received depended on the household’s size, income, and expenses, a standard that remains today.  The elimination of the purchase requirement meant that people received their benefits upfront, without the intermediary step of purchasing the food stamp first.  The Food Stamp Act of 1977, therefore, removed a major barrier to participation in the program while also ensuring that benefits would be targeted to those most in need.  As a result, the mission of the Food Stamp Program to mitigate the effects of poverty was strengthened.