The number of farmers markets in the United States has skyrocketed from a measly 340 at the outset of the 1970s to more than 7,000 today, and, according to the USDA, sales of agricultural products directly from farmer to consumer brought in a whopping $1.2 billion in 2007. [ed- this is a trivial portion of the US agricultural market, and hardly "whopping."]
But even though many markets have started accepting food stamps, critics still charge that they are only affordable for the haves, who are much more likely to have access to other fresh foods.
A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists puts some holes in that theory. It says that modest public funding for a couple hundred otherwise-unsuccessful farmers markets could generate to 13,500 jobs over a five-year period.
I really do not have much time, so we will have to leave aside how government-forced reallocation of capital from current productive uses to subsidizing small and failing farmers markets will be a net source of employment.
I have another point - as it turns out, we already have highly efficient farmers markets that source produce from the world's agricultural regions best suited to a particular crop and bring them in a very efficient and low-cost way to consumers, taking advantage of scale economies where they exist. They are called "supermarkets." If you want crops that don't take advantage of our best chemical and genetic technology, that are grown locally rather than in optimal soils and climates, and are retailed in inefficient, undersized and often unprofessionally managed part-time markets, they are going to cost more.
As is typical, this has nothing to do with helping the poor. This is about government subsidy of a particular set of lifestyle choices of aging middle class hipsters.