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Secretary Vilsack Kicks off USDA Farmers Market for 20th Season

Administrator Anne Alonzo Welcomes New Vendors, Announces Night Market

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2015 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opened the 20th season of the USDA Farmers Market with a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo joined Secretary at the event and highlighted the expanded market, which now includes over 30 vendors. The market is located just off the National Mall at 12th Street and Independence Ave. S.W. The Secretary and Administrator Alonzo also announced the new "USDA Farmers Market at Night," open every third Friday evening of the month, which will feature fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a variety of prepared hot food and entertainment.

"For the past two decades, the USDA Farmers Market has shown us how farmers markets bring urban and rural communities together and expand access to locally grown fruit and vegetables," said Secretary Vilsack. "Like thousands of markets around the country, the USDA Farmers Market benefits local farmers and ranchers, small businesses, and consumers by creating economic opportunities and offering healthy, wholesome food."

Secretary Vilsack has identified strengthening local food systems, including farmers markets, as one of the four pillars of USDA's commitment to rural economic development. The USDA Farmers Market welcomes customers using benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons, and DC Produce Plus checks. As part of the Administration's commitment to ensuring all Americans have access to a healthy diet, USDA has authorized over 5,900 farmers markets or direct marketing farmers nationwide to accept SNAP.

The USDA Farmers Market plays an important role in creating economic opportunities for local farmers and small businesses in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding Chesapeake Bay region. It will be open on Fridays (except for July 3) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 1 through October 30, 2015. For the first time, USDA will also host a night market from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the third Friday of the month beginning Friday, May 15, 2015 featuring prepared food and entertainment. AMS manages the USDA Farmers Market.

"The USDA Farmers Market fits perfectly with our mission of facilitating marketing, and it's wonderful to see how the growth of the USDA Farmers Market is creating so many local economic opportunities and jobs," said AMS Administrator Alonzo. "We're excited to partner with local food entrepreneurs this year by hosting several vendors from the DC-based Union Kitchen food incubator program."

AMS also supports farmers markets around the country through grants, technical assistance and applied research. This year, AMS is making available more than $90 million in grant funding to support local food efforts through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. The USDA Farmers Market is one of many markets listed in USDA's Local Food Directories, a set of free, online resources provided by AMS. Consumers can search the directories for locations, operating hours, and more details about farmers markets, food hubs, community-supported agriculture (CSA) operations and on-farm markets.

USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) initiative coordinates USDA's local food efforts. In the past two years alone, USDA has made over 500 investments in food hubs, local processing facilities, and distribution networks. USDA is committed to strengthening the local food sector, making sure it is a healthy and thriving part of the broader marketplace.


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