Farmers Markets Stimulate Local Economies

On the next visit to your farmers market, take a moment to observe the wheels of your local economy in motion. The rows of fresh, colorful produce. The delicious aroma of sizzling fare. The neighborly conversations. At the center of this lovely atmosphere transactions take place between farmer and customer; the exchange of money for goods.

Enticed by festive sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, more and more people choose to shop at farmers markets. According to an impact study conducted by Civic Economics, locally owned retailers like farmers markets return more than three times as much of their revenue to the local economy than do their corporate competitors. This means your farmers market purchases not only stock your pantry with fresh, healthy food, but recycle money throughout your community, boosting economic activity and job creation.

And as the demand for local food continues to grow, farmers markets are recognized as important retail anchors for economic commerce. The more than 8,500 markets nationwide are the impetus of consumer support for local farmers – while at the same time create opportunities for small businesses to stimulate local and regional economies. Farmers markets are more than just a venue for fresh food and a friendly atmosphere; the revenue they generate helps your community prosper.

What are the economic impacts of farmers markets?
National Impacts

Growers selling locally create 13 full time jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those that do not sell locally create 3. [i]

The USDA estimates that local food sales from farmers markets, food hubs, CSAs, farm stands and farm to schools programs have grown from from about $5 billion in 2008 to $11.7 billion in 2014.

A 2010 study by USDA’s Economic Research Service compared producers selling salad mix, blueberries, milk, beef, and apples locally with producers of the same products selling to mainstream supply “In all five cases, nearly all of the wage and proprietor income earned in the local market chains is retained in the local economy.” [ii]

Farms selling local food through direct-to-consumer marketing channels were more likely to remain in business over 2007-12 than all farms not using direct-to-consumer marketing channels, according to US Census of Agriculture data.

State Impacts

Florida households spent an estimated $1.8 billion at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and U-pick farms in 2011. [iii]

In Iowa and Oklahoma, every dollar spent at farmers markets led to an additional $0.58 – $1.36 in sales at other nearby businesses. [iv], [v]

Farmers markets create between 257 and 361 full-time jobs and generate up to $13 million in South Carolina alone, according to one recent estimate. [vi]

Wyoming’s economy was bolstered by more than $2.8 million in 2013 from sales at the state’s farmers. [vii]

Virginia Cooperative Extension reported that Southern Virginia households spending 15% of their weekly food budget on locally grown food products would generate $90 million in new farm income for the region. [viii]

According to the US Census of Agriculture, 144,530 farms sold $1.3 billion in fresh edible agricultural products directly to consumers in 2012.

Individual Market Impacts

41% of shoppers at Portland (Oregon) Farmers Markets said that their main reason for shopping at these markets was to support the local economy.[ix]

Farmers markets spur spending at neighboring businesses. A 2010 study of the Easton Farmers Market in Pennsylvania found that 70% of farmers market customers are also shopping at downtown businesses, spending up to an extra $26,000 each week.

At the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans, 32% of Market shoppers spend money at nearby businesses, resulting in $3.2 million in projected gross receipts and an annual contribution of $151,621 to local sales tax revenue.

Boise, Idaho’s Capital City Public Market generated an estimated $4.5 million in economic activity for the local economy in 2011.

So the next time you shop at your neighborhood farmers market, remember: not only are you appeasing your taste buds, but you’re giving your community a little economic boost. One dollar at a time.


This article was originally published by The Farmers Market Coalition 



[i] Feenstra GW, Lewis CC, Hinrichs CC, Gillespie Jr GW & Hilchey D. (2003). Entrepreneurial Outcomes and Enterprise Size in US Retail Farmers Markets. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 18, 46-55.
[ii] King RP, Hand MS, DiGiacomo G, Clancy K, Gomez MI, Hardesty SD, Lev L, McLaughlin EW. (2010). Comparing the Structure, Size, and Performance of Local and Mainstream Food Supply Chains.
[iii] Hodges, A. W., Stevens, T. J., & Wysocki, A. F. (2014). Local and Regional Food Systems in Florida: Values and Economic Impacts. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 2(May), 285–298. Retrieved from
[iv] Henneberry, S. R., Taylor, M. J., Whitacre, B. E., Agustini, H. N., Mutondo, J. E., & Roberts, W. (2008). The Economic Impacts of Direct Produce Marketing: A Case Study of Oklahoma’s Famers’ Markets. 2008 Annual Meeting, February 2-6, 2008, Dallas, Texas. Retrieved from
[v] Otto, D. and T. Varner. (2005). Consumers, vendors,and the Economic Importance of Iowa Farmers Markets: An Economic Impact Survey Analysis. Iowa State University, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Retrieved from
[vi] Hughes, D. W., & Isengildina-Massa, O. (2015). The economic impact of farmers’ markets and a state level locally grown campaign. Food Policy, 54, 78–84.
[vii] Wyoming Business Council. (September 2014). Wyo Farmers Markets Make Big Economic Impact. Retrieved from
[viii] Bendfeldt, E. S., Walker, M., Bunn, T., Martin, L., & Barrow, M. (2011). A Community-Based Food System: Building Health, Wealth, Connection, and Capacity as the Foundation of Our Economic
Future. Retrieved from
[ix] Williams, Christina. “Portland Farmers Market Finds Shoppers Motivated by Local Economy Over Fresh Tomatoes” (2012)

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