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Kentucky farms seeing more direct, local sales

BOWLING GREEN -- A new survey from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says more than 3,200 Kentucky farms reported selling some of their products locally.

Ag professionals say interest in locally-grown foods has increased in recent years.

The study is the first-ever Local Food Marketing Practices Survey by the federal ag department.

The growth in local food sales in Warren County has largely been the result of increasing consumer demand, The Daily News reported. Joanna Coles, an extension agent with the University of Kentucky, said consumers want to be closer to the farmers that produce their food.

Coles said she remembers selling produce at farmer's markets with far less consumer traffic when she was a child.

"It wasn't trendy then," she said.

The survey says in 2015, 3,227 farms reported direct sales of food amounting to $65 million in sales.

About four percent of Kentucky farms are directly marketing their products, David Knopf, director for the National Agricultural Statistics Service's Eastern Mountain Regional Field Office in Kentucky, said in a news release.

Of all 50 states, Kentucky ranked 19th in terms of number of farms and 26th in direct farm sales, Lisa Ferguson, a spokeswoman for NASS, said.

According to USDA data, California, Michigan and New York were the top three states in terms of sales, with California's sales amounting to $2.8 billion.

"Nationally, there's a local food movement going on," said Jason Phillips, an extension agent at the UK extension office in Simpson County. "People just like to know where their food comes from."

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