Virginia ranks 9th in U. S. in local foods sales
In 2015, Virginia’s 3,415 farms reported direct farm sales of food, including value-added products, of $217.3 million, making Virginia No. 9 in the U. S. for local foods sales.
So says the first-ever nationwide Local Food Marketing Practices Survey done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
The survey, released Tuesday, was designed to collect data related to the marketing of foods directly from farms and produce official benchmark data on the local food sector in the U. S.
Sandy Adams, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says Virginia’s high ranking is good news. “We have known for years that local food is an important segment of Virginia agriculture; we just haven’t known how important it was statistically. This USDA survey has closed that gap and quantified the power of food and beverages made or grown in Virginia,” she said in a statement.
Herman Ellison, a Virginia state statistician, said the survey shows that farmers have taken advantage of nearby market opportunities. “Population centers in the state allow a majority of sales, 71 percent, direct to consumers. The benefit of this practice is that these farmers are capturing the full share of the food dollar. This information can help develop the local foods market and increase the available food for consumers.”
Nationwide, 167,009 U.S. farms reported selling $8.7 billion last year in edible food directly to consumers, retailers, institutions and local distributors.
Sales categories include both fresh food and value-added products (edible processed foods) such as bottled milk, cheese, meat, jam, cider, and wine.