HARRISBURG, Aug 06, 2014 -- Contact: Dawn Bonsell: (717) 237-2286
USDA Officials Visit Pennsylvania Farmer’s Market to Highlight National Farmer’s Market Week and the Feds Feed Families Campaign
Pennsylvania has over 297 farmer’s markets
HARRISBURG, Pa. – August 6, 2014 – USDA Rural Development (RD) State Director Thomas Williams, USDA Farm Service (FSA) Agency State Executive Director Bill Wehry and USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Services (NRCS) Assistant State Conservationist Gary Smith visited the Farmers Open Air Market at the PA Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg to highlight National Farmer’s Market Week and the Feds Feed Families Campaign.
August 3-9 marks the 15th Annual National Farmers Market Week, an annual celebration of the nation’s farmers markets and the vendors, customers and communities that make them possible. Farmers markets are fantastic business incubators for new and young farmers and are critical building blocks in developing strong local and regional food systems. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, about 50,000 farmers and ranchers nationwide are now selling to local retailers, and 150,000 are selling their products directly to consumers. Through resources in the 2014 Farm Bill alone, USDA is making a historic investment of more than $78 million to support farmers markets and local and regional food systems.
As a result of this ongoing investment, we continue to see the farmers market sector mature and grow, seeding new business opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and local food entrepreneurs. As of August, 2014, there are 8,268 farmers markets listed in the National Farmers Market Directory, an increase of 76% since 2008. Pennsylvania is one of the top ten states in the country with 297 markets.
USDA employees are currently partnering with one of the vendors from the Harrisburg farmer’s market, Kenny Stehr & Sons Fresh Fruits and Vegetables of Pitman, Schuylkill County,
in support of The Feds Feed Families food drive. Throughout the summer months, federal employees in Pennsylvania and around the country collect food for distribution by food banks and shelters. USDA employees purchased one bin of fresh watermelons from Kenny Stehr & Sons and received a donation of an additional bin from the Stehr brothers to donate to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
In the past four years, Federal government employees around the country have donated over 15 million pounds of food through the Feds Feed Families campaign. This year, USDA employees in Pennsylvania have already collected over 2000 pounds of food.
USDA employees are generous and they step up to help people in their community. The 2014 food drive officially began on June 1 and will run through August 28. All Federal agencies across the country participate in the campaign and Federal employees are asked to donate non-perishable food items throughout the summer.
USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
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