Farmers Markets

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Farmers Market Statistics

A majority of U.S. farmers who sell at farmers markets, do so likely because they earn far more cents on the dollar for sales transacted there as compared to other locations. Many farmers who sell at these markets do so within a relatively close proximity to their farms and most have been doing so for many years.

Findings

1. Earnings & Sales

  • Data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that "50% of farmers selling at farmers markets derive at least half their revenue from farmers market sales."
  • Farmers earn 90 cents on the dollar for goods sold at farmers markets, compared to the 15.6 cents on the dollar that they earn from goods sold nationwide overall.
  • Net sales derived from U.S. farmers markets in 2015 topped $1.5 billion.
  • Twenty-three percent of farmers direct-to-consumer sales resulted from farmers markets.
  • The average sale price for vegetables was $11 per transaction, which was the same transaction price for fruits too.

2. Farm Size & Location

  • Data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that over 85% of the vendors who sell goods at farmers markets (including farmers) "traveled fewer than 50 miles to sell at a farmers market." Furthermore, over 50% "of farmers traveled less than 10 miles to their market." Those statistics stand in stark contrast to the average 1,200 miles that produce travels before it arrives at a grocery store in the U.S.
  • Of farm goods sold direct-to-consumers (which includes, but is not limited to, farmers markets as one outlet) in the U.S., 58% came from "small family farms."
  • The average size of a "small family farm" in the U.S. spans 231 acres. Those "small family farm[s]" collectively comprise 88% of all U.S. farms.
  • In contrast, the average size of a "large family farm" in the U.S. spans 1,421 acres, while the average size of a "very large farm" spans 2,086 acres.

3. About the Farmers

  • Seventy-five percent of "farmers who sell at farmers markets use practices that meet or exceed organic standards."
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has stated that over 150,000 farmers, agricultural entrepreneurs, and ranchers sell goods direct-to-consumer including at farmers markets.
  • Most farmers have considerable experience selling at farmers markets as just 7% were new to such, 32% had between one and five years of experience, 32% had between six and 15 years of experience, 12% had between 16 and 25 years of experience, 15% had between 26 and 50 years of experience, and 1% had 51 or more years of experience.

Your Research Team Applied the Following Strategy:

We were able to find more than 10 statistics regarding farmers that sell at markets. However, we could not find publicly available information about three of the requested data points (average number of crops sold at a farmers market, the number of crops grown, and the number of sales farmers transact at farmers markets). We looked thoroughly for that information before concluding that we couldn't find nor reasonably triangulate those data points. First, we reviewed a substantial quantity of articles published by a wide array of sources that included statistics about farmers selling at farmers markets in the U.S. A few examples of those articles came from sources including the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Farmers Market Coalition. While there were undoubtedly many matching articles, not a single one contained any information about those three data points.

Second, we reviewed case studies of farms that sell at farmers markets to see if we could triangulate those data points using any relevant information included as part of those studies. However, none of the requested data points were stated in those case studies nor was there sufficient information available for us to use via triangulation. As a third strategy, we reviewed hard data published by governmental sources such as the USDA to see if those sources had the information we were looking for. While those and similar sources contained a lot of statistics about farmers and farmers markets, none included the aforementioned three data points that we were looking for. Since we could not find those three data points, we included additional ones as a proxy.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Produce Farmer Records

Produce farms are required to keep records for tax purposes including income, expenses, and any employment details, as well as for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Food Safety Administration (FSA) purposes such as training, water safety, and equipment sanitation. Below are details of each type of requirements.

FINDINGS

  • For tax purposes, it is suggested that produce farms keep all records including employment records and sales and purchase records for 4 years.
  • FDA and FSA records must be kept in the original or electronic format on or off-site for a minimum of 2 years.
  • All records kept for FDA or FSA purposes are required to have the name and location of the farm, date and time, all monitoring details, description of produce including specific brands and varieties, and the actual growing location.
  • Record keeping for FDA or FSA purposes is only required to prove compliance with FDA standards, identify problem patterns, and to minimize risk of contamination. Not all farms are required to keep all records, however, the FDA suggests that all farms keep all records needed when following the Product Rule just in case.
  • For FDA and FSA, records are required for all personal training and qualifications, agricultural water, biological soil, equipment, tools, buildings, and sanitation.
  • For taxes, records are required for inventory, income, expenses, and any other taxes claimed such as medicare or social security.

FDA AND FSA PRODUCT SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

  • Records to Support a Farm’s Coverage or Exemption Status: produce farms are required to provide written assurance that the produce is “not processed to adequately reduce the presence of microorganisms of public health significance”
  • Personnel Qualifications and Training: training records are required to be detailed, dated, and signed by a supervisor.
  • Agricultural Water: documentation is required for agricultural water inspection details, analytical tests, scientific data relating to water treatment, water treatment monitoring, scientific data relating to microbial die-off rate, corrective measures taken to comply with FSA standards, annual certificates of compliance for water safety, scientific data relating to alternative microbial water quality, and any additional or alternative analytical method used in lieu U.S. EPA method 1603.
  • Biological Soil Amendments of Animal Origin: records must be kept for any soil amendments made by farmers on their farm including temperature, time, turning, etc.
  • Equipment, Tools, Buildings, and Sanitation: growers are required to supply records of sanitizing and cleaning equipment used for any storage of products such as covered harvesting, packing, or holding.

TAX REQUIREMENTS

  • Inventory: any farms with an average annual gross receipt of $25 million or more over 3 years are required to provide inventory records.
  • Income: proof of all income including sales, assets, and any other forms of income
  • Expenses: records of all expenses are required including travel, transportation, entertainment, gift expenses, payroll and employee tax records.
  • Operating losses: any financial operating losses are required to be reported such as depreciation of farm property or net operating losses.
  • Other: any taxes claimed such as medicare, social security, employment tax, etc.
Sources
Sources