Secretary Lucas Lentsch speaks at Aberdeen Farmers’ Market

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Farm Forum

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch spoke to producers and consumers at the Aberdeen Farmer’s Market on July 2 about the importance of local foods and the impact farmers’ markets have on South Dakota agriculture.

“Farmers’ markets are the most important outlet for our specialty crop producers in state” said Lentsch. “They provide an important marketing location for consumers to know their farmer and know their food. We hope the number of specialty producers continues to grow with thriving farmers’ markets for producers to sell their products. Farmers’ Markets can be a great way to feed consumers’ growing interest in where their food comes from, especially as more people are further removed from agriculture than ever before.”

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) awards Farmers’ Market Grower Grants annually to farmers’ markets across the state. In 2015, SDDA was able to award grants to 12 farmers’ markets. The grants are funded through the Specialty Crop Block Grant provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

Farmers’ Market Grower Grants provide funds to many small markets which have few other funding sources available. These grants help farmers’ markets increase their visibility and availability in towns across the state, particularly our smaller communities. Kelsea Sutton of the Burke Farmers’ Market stressed the value of these grants, “Over the past four years, the Burke Area Farmers Market has become an important part of the growing local food economy in Gregory County, as well as a treasured weekly public event for our community members. Without the Farmers Market Grower Grant, our Market would not have been able to sustain itself in order to grow and develop into the crucial part of the ag and social community that it has today.”

Farmers’ markets are on the rise across South Dakota with new markets opening each year in towns of all sizes. South Dakota has more than 60 farmers’ markets, and the South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) encourages residents to buy local produce from those outlets. To find a farmers’ market in your area, visit the USDA Rural Development’s at http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/.