NC Commissioner Steve Troxler: NASS Survey on Local Marketing

An upcoming NASS survey looks at how locally grown foods were marketed and sold in 2020. The deadline for responding is Feb. 16.  This survey has been conducted previously in 2015.

  • The USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service is conducting a 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey to look at how locally grown foods were marketed and sold.
  • The last time this survey was taken was in 2015, so it will provide a five-year comparison point that will be helpful in informing policies around marketing programs.
  • With the last three Farm Bills, we have seen significant expansion in federal funding and policies for local and regional food systems, so this survey can also help measure any growth from these efforts.
  • 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 specific marketing channel 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.
  • It will be an interesting year to survey marketing efforts with so many farms having to make changes to counter COVID restrictions and the broader effects of that.
  • We have seen a lot of direct sales from on-farm markets, farmers markets and roadside stands and there has certainly been increased interest in locally grown foods this year.
  • At both the state and federal level, local food production is a priority, as it can serve as both a catalyst for rural prosperity and economic development as well as provide Americans access to a safe, nutritious, and secure food supply.
  • We saw how important local foods were at the beginning at the pandemic when the food supply chain had to quickly adapt to the closure of restaurants, schools and other institutional feeding sites.
  • I can remember early on explaining how there are two food delivery systems at work in normal times, each servicing its own category of clients. (i.e bulk packaging or individual packaging.)
  • Another benefit to local food production and direct sales is it offers a greater return for farmers.
  • I’d encourage growers to take the time to fill out this survey when you are contacted about it. They do help policymakers, farmers, industry professionals and USDA personnel in their work on local and regional food and agricultural systems.
  • As part of the Census of Agriculture Program, federal laws require producers to respond and requires USDA to keep identities and answers confidential.
  • Farmers and ranchers who receive the survey may complete it securely and conveniently online at agcounts.usda.gov or by mail.
  • The deadline to respond is February 16, 2021. NASS expects to have results available from the survey in November 2021.