By: Maria White, Esq.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will conduct the 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey, beginning this month. First conducted in 2015, this Census of Agriculture special study will survey local and regional food systems to generate new data on how locally grown foods in the United States are marketed and sold. NASS estimates the results of the agency’s efforts will be published in November of 2021.
The 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey is part of the Census of Agriculture Program and is authorized by federal laws, Title 7 USC 2204(g); Public Law 105-113. These federal laws direct food producers to respond, and require USDA to keep identities and answers confidential.
Farmers and ranchers who receive the survey may complete it securely and conveniently online at www.agcounts.usda.gov or by mail. The deadline for response is February 16, 2021.
Federal funding and policies for local and regional food systems were greatly expanded by the last three Farm Bills and it is our job as a federal statistical agency to help measure this part of the agriculture sector. The upcoming Survey will produce the first official federal data on marketing practices for local and regional foods since 2015 and will generate a five-year comparison point to inform agricultural policies and businesses.
How The 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey Will Work
The Survey will ask producers about their production and local marketing of foods during the 2020 calendar year, including the value of food sales by community-based marketing channels such as farmers markets, restaurants, and roadside stands. Other questions seek information on the value of crop and livestock sales, marketing practices, expenses, federal farm program participation, and more.
Local foods production is linked to USDA priorities, including facilitating rural prosperity and economic development along with providing all Americans access to a safe, nutritious, and secure food supply. Researchers, policymakers, farmers, ranchers, industry professionals, and USDA personnel will use the resulting information in their work on local and regional food and agricultural systems. Examples of such uses include:
- USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Foods Promotion Program, Specialty Crop Block Grants Program;
- USDA Farm Service Agency’s Microloan Program;
- USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Program, a collaboration between USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service;
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s efforts to expand Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card availability at farmers markets;
- State and local agencies’ support and promotion of local food markets;
- Farmers’ and agricultural organizations’ business and marketing strategies;
- Researchers’ and university extension members’ research.
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