People have until midnight Aug. 8 to vote online in American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets Contest.


Jane Kirchner, the group’s senior director of marketing, said in a release that more than 22,000 votes had been cast since June and more than 700 farmers markets are competing.


“… This contest has shown how much people love to connect with their local farmers, and how consumers have a real loyalty to the markets in their communities,” Kirchner said in the release.


Coinciding with the final week of voting, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is celebrating National Farmers Market Week Aug. 2-8 by encouraging consumers to visit their local farmers markets, which have grown in number by nearly 5% in the past year, according to the release.


Consumers can vote at www.farmland.org/vote.


American Farmland Trust established the contest to highlight the necessity of farm and ranch land and local food, as well as help bolster community economic development.


Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack echoed those sentiments about National Farmers Market Week.


“One of the Obama administration’s top priorities is to make sure that all Americans, especially children, have access to fresh, nutritious food, and USDA’s ongoing support of farmers markets is important to reaching that goal,” Vilsack said in the release. “At the same time, farmers markets help support small family farms, help revitalize rural communities and often promote sustainable agricultural practices.”