May 3, 2013

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Benefits

Rebecca Klein

Rebecca Klein

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Center for a Livable Future

The Waverly farmers' market, Baltimore, Md.

A primary role of USDA is to promote U.S. agriculture. Another is to ensure food access for vulnerable Americans. On Monday, April 29, USDA took a step that will do both. The agency did this by expanding eligibility for USDA grants for equipment that makes it possible for farmers to accept SNAP EBT cards (policy brief). While it seems like a small thing, helping overcome this technological barrier will increase access to fresh and healthy produce for SNAP participants and improve farmers’ bottom lines.

CLF and colleagues have been advocating for such steps for several years. We were pleased when USDA took an initial step toward this in 2012 by making $4 million available for farmers markets to access the needed equipment Monday’s announcement takes this further bedmaking individual producers at farmers markets that are not already affiliated with SNAP able to apply for the equipment funds directly.

We applaud this effort and hope that is one of many USDA will make to ensure that SNAP can be accepted at all direct market venues.  As summer approaches, roadside farmstands will become flush with diverse, nutritious products. Ensuring such stands and other direct market venues can accept SNAP EBT will increase access to fresh healthy food for SNAP participants and increase sales for farmers—a win for farmers, vulnerable Americans and a wise investment of taxpayer dollars.

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