Just in time for 2014 National Farmers’ Market Week, August 3 – 9, we have updated data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers’ Market Directory on PolicyMap. The Directory is a project of the Agricultural Marketing Service, an agency that runs programs to increase awareness of agricultural products at home and abroad. Last Friday, August 1st, PolicyMap continued its participation in NYU GovLab’s Open Data 500 series of roundtables by visiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C, home to its very own farmers’ market:
While the occasion allowed us to personally verify the location of the USDA outdoor market, the primary topic at hand was open data. Since last years’ presidential Open Data mandate, USDA has been hard at work reformatting and releasing data to Data.gov. As an organization tasked with processing a great amount of federal open data, we are keen to participate in conversations about how to make these data releases more transparent and consistent.
This meeting was convened to bring together USDA staff and data users to discuss both public- and private-sector uses for the Department’s data, as well as opportunities for collaboration to make these data available and useful. With 17 agencies under its umbrella, USDA produces a staggering amount of information on topics ranging from crop production to rural housing. The focus of this session was information related to food systems, bringing together representatives from the Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Food and Nutrition Service, and Farm Service Agency, as well as many food inspection and production-related staff. Some topics of conversation included tools to format and interpret “unstructured” data from inspection reports, and sharing of person-level data among agencies (for example, food assistance and Medicare/Medicaid records) to enrich aggregated data releases. The group also discussed making more real-time APIs, such as the Farmers’ Market Directory, available to data users.
Find your local farmers’ market on PolicyMap in the Health tab under Local Foods & Businesses. Check out more coverage of the Open Data 500 Roundtable from the USDA.