The U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest directory recognizes 7,864 farmers markets operating in the U.S. in 2012. Last year, the USDA's directory listed 7,175 markets.
On Friday at a kickoff to National Farmer's Market Week, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced there was a 9.6 percent increase in National Farmers Market Directory listings.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's directory, a database published online at farmersmarkets.usda.gov , identifies 7,864 farmers markets operating throughout the United States. The information collected in the directory is self-reported data provided voluntarily by farmers market managers through an annual outreach effort. Last year, USDA's directory listed 7,175 markets.
National Farmers Market Week  is taking place this week. USDA officials will visit markets around the country between Aug. 5 and Aug. 11, to honor growers and commemorate National Farmers Market Week.
"Farmers markets are a critical ingredient to our nation's food system," said Merrigan. "These outlets provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also to the communities looking for fresh, healthy foods. The directory is an online tool that helps connect farmers and consumers, communities and businesses around the country."
The top states, in terms of the number of markets reported in the directory, include California (827 markets), New York (647 markets), Massachusetts (313 markets), Michigan (311 markets), Wisconsin (298 markets) and Illinois (292 markets).
Geographic regions like the mid-Atlantic (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia), the Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont), and the Southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee) saw large increases in their listings, reporting, 15.8, 14.4 and 13.1 percent more markets, respectively.