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Ag Sales to Consumers

Massachusetts Agricultural Census 2017

In 2017, the Agricultural Census updated questions about farmers' marketing practices. In past census years, farmers reported marketing practices, including whether and how much they sold directly for human consumption, such as through farm stands, farmers markets, and Community Supported Agriculture. In 2017, the Census questions changed slightly. Farmers were asked how much they received for food produced and sold directly to: 1) Consumers; and 2) Wholesale markets for locally or regionally branded products.  

While the change in census question wording makes it difficult to compare 2017 results with results from 2012 and earlier, we can review trends in Massachusetts' total value of agricultural products sold directly to consumers. 

Between 2012 and 2017, Massachusetts direct to consumer sales increase from $47.91 million to $100.47 million. The market value of agricultural products sold to individuals showed an increasing trend with only an observed decline of 2 percent in sales between the year of 1982 and 1992. The number of farms that sold directly to consumers increased by 32 percent in 2007 to 1,659 farms, and again by 33 percent to 2,209 farms in 2012, but decreased 17 percent between 2012 and 2017. Figure 4.5 below shows that the number of farms has been increasing since 1978 with an exception for the period between the years of 1982 and 1992, where there was a 22 percent decline in the number of farms, the period between 1997 and 2002, where there was a 14 percent decline in the number of farms, and between 2012 and 2017, a decline of 17.7 percent. The increase in value coupled with the decrease in number of farms explains the 33 percent increase in average sales per farm from direct to consumer sales between 2012 and 2017. 



Figure 4.6 below shows direct and locally or regionally branded wholesale product sales per farm in 2017 for the top twelve states in the country. In 2017, Massachusetts ranked third in the country for direct to consumer sales per farm, with $55,384 sold per farm, behind California ($102,588 per farm) and Delaware ($79,375 per farm). Massachusetts ranked eighth in the country for wholesale sales of locally and regionally branded products ($100,862 per farm), well behind Arizon ($1.23 million per farm) and California ($$1.0 million per farm).