To The Editor:

We have a tremendous asset in our area — our local farmers’ markets. These markets offer residents an opportunity to sample some of the best agricultural goods produced. In addition to providing quality, locally grown and produced goods, these farmers’ markets improve the economy and the communities in which they are located.

The majority of folks participating in the farmers’ markets live in the area. Money spent to buy their products is returned to the community. These local producers shop in the stores. Their children attend local schools. They purchase materials necessary in the production of their goods locally. Each of these activities stimulates the economy. By providing access to healthy agricultural products and locally produced goods, they are enhancing the quality of life in our communities.

Aug. 3-9 was National Farmers Market Week. The week is an annual celebration of the nation’s farmers’ markets. It is appreciation and recognition of vendors, customers and communities who participate, visit and host farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets are venues through which consumers can get to know their farmers, artisans, craftsmen and small businesses.

I recommend a visit to a local market. I think folks will be pleasantly surprised with the variety and quality of the goods they will find offered at the farmers’ market. By supporting these local vendors, you are supporting your community. To search for a farmers’ market near you, access the National Farmers Market Directory, This directory allows a search by ZIP code.

USDA is committed to farmers’ market development because it plays a key part in local food economy. It offers important business opportunities for new farmers, small producers and emerging enterprises. Local farmers’ markets are entrepreneurial incubators. USDA is continuing to see the farmers’ market sector mature and grow, seeding new business opportunities for farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs.

By supporting local farmers’ markets, we can ensure continued access to quality locally grown food and locally produced goods. This support will assist the vendors prosper and add to the value of their products and our communities.