2012 PRESS RELEASES
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March 5, 2012
SALES AT VIRGINIA’S WHOLESALE FARMERS’ MARKETS TOP $42 MILLION IN 2011
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced today that the state’s network of wholesale farmers’ markets had gross sales with a value of $42.8 million in 2011, more than doubling the value of sales over the past five years. This was a 7.3 percent increase over 2010 and a 110 percent increase over the 2006 sales level. The number of farmers using the Market System in 2011 increased by 34.8 percent and produce acreage rose by nearly 20 percent in the same year.
The Farmers’ Market System includes four shipping point farmers’ markets, each operating under a contract between the Commonwealth of Virginia and private sector and/or county government organizations. The markets are located in Hillsville (Southwest), Melfa, (Eastern Shore), Oak Grove (Northern Neck) and Courtland (Southeast). These wholesale markets are different from community farmers’ markets that sell directly to consumers.
Statistics for 2011 indicate that:
• 209 producers marketed product and/or used market services at the four markets combined, compared to 155 producers in 2010.
• Gross value of products marketed was $42.8 million, representing 2.9 million product units, compared with $39.9 million in 2010, representing 2.9 million product units.
• The markets served 7,726 acres of production in 2011, compared with 6,448 acres in 2010.
• The system served 17 brokers and 638 major retail stores and institutional buyers, compared with 36 brokers and 317 retail stores and institutional buyers in 2010. Much of the decrease in brokers can be attributed to store consolidations and closures.
“A variety of factors had a positive effect upon production and marketing volumes for the past year,” said Matthew J. Lohr, VDACS Commissioner. “We saw a continued trend in a greater diversity of the types of produce grown and marketed through the Farmers’ Market System. Produce prices, while mixed, were generally higher than in 2010 and the 20 percent increase in production acreage offset the yield reductions due to high temperatures, drought conditions and extreme storms that impacted eastern Virginia in late summer and early fall.”
Lohr also credits production meetings and grower educational sessions held in all four market regions during the winter months with recruiting additional growers and educating farmers on market demand and the latest production recommendations and techniques. “The Buy Local and Virginia Grown consumer movements continued to generate greater produce marketing opportunities and resulted in increased production of fresh produce items by Virginia farmers,” he said.
On the Eastern Shore, growers planted more acreage in corn for grain, soybeans, wheat and, to a lesser extent, cotton. This resulted in declining vegetable acreage. Southeast Virginia experienced a similar situation with cotton; some vegetable production shifted to cotton as a result of the high cotton futures in 2011.“The 2011 production year was not without some problems,” concluded Lohr, “but over all, it was a very positive year with record sales. Once again, these wholesale shipping point markets provided significant value for Virginia’s farmers and consumers.”