Locally-driven efforts are helping farmers find use for their agricultural equipment.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that the number of farmers markets in the country increased more than 13 percent when compared to 2008. The department, citing information from the Farmers Market Directory, noted the number of markets increased from 4,685 in 2008 to 5,274 this year.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted that farmers markets give consumers better access to locally-grown foods. Furthermore, the increase in the number of local markets shows that consumers have an interest in purchasing products produced near them.
"Farmers markets also connects the community to the local farmers who produce the fresh food, and play an important role in the direct marketing of produce to local consumers," Vilsack said.
Trying to develop farmers markets is part of the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign, which aims at nurturing local food systems. Along with giving consumers fresh, locally-grown food, the initiative hopes to spur regional economic development.
Recently, the USDA announced funding through the program that will help study the Northeast's ability to increase food production. A large portion of the funds will go to help study soil in the region.