July 24, 2018

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge Department Of Agriculture To Prevent Any Lapse In Access To Farmers Markets For Vital Food Assistance Program; Senators Warn That Any Disruption Could Have Devastating Impact On Families, Senior Citizens, And Farmers Who Supply Farmers Markets

With Electronic Benefit Transfer Services At Farmers Markets Under Threat By Novo Dia Ending Operations, Schumer And Gillibrand Urge The Department Of Agriculture’s Food, Nutrition And Consumer Services To Do Everything Possible To Prevent Any Potential Disruptions

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Brandon Lipps, to do everything possible to prevent any disruptions to the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) service at farmers markets nationwide. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that Novo Dia Group, one of the primary vendors that services farmers markets, announced that they will cease operations later this summer, leaving many markets without EBT capabilities during the height of their season. This capability allows farmers markets to provide farm-to-table food directly to our most vulnerable via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“We recently learned that Novo Dia Group, one of the primary vendors that services farmers markets, will cease operations later this summer, leaving many markets without EBT capabilities during the height of the farmers market season. Any disruption in EBT service at these markets would have devastating impacts on SNAP families, as well as farmers who sell their products to these local families. These families would also no longer be able to earn incentives by purchasing fruits and vegetables through SNAP, making it even more challenging for SNAP participants to afford healthy meals for their families,” Senators Schumer and Gillibrand said in the letter. “We ask that the Food and Nutrition Service explore every possible option to ensure there is no disruption in EBT service at farmers markets during this critical market time. Local farmers and families depend on the ability to use SNAP in these markets and the consequences of any shutdown, no matter how brief, could be incredibly detrimental to the growing relationship between SNAP families and farmers.”

The Senators explained that in 2017, over 7,300 farmers and markets accepted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), resulting in over $22 million in purchases directly into the local food economy. The Senators said that providing the ability for SNAP participants to purchase food at farmers markets is a win-win, as it both provides critical access to healthy, local fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods, as well as helps family farmers develop important local markets and expand business opportunities.

A copy of the senators’ letter appears below:

Mr. Brandon Lipps

Acting Deputy Undersecretary, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services

We write to express concern about potential disruptions in Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) service for direct to consumer and farmers markets that accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

In 2017, over 7,300 farmers and markets accepted SNAP, resulting in over $22 million in purchases directly into the local food economy. Providing the ability for SNAP participants to purchase food at farmers markets is a win-win. Not only does this provide critical access to healthy, local fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods, it also helps family farmers to develop important local markets and expand business opportunities.

We recently learned that Novo Dia Group, one of the primary vendors that services farmers markets, will cease operations later this month, leaving many markets without EBT capabilities during the height of the farmers’ market season. Any disruption in EBT service at these markets would have devastating impacts on SNAP families as well as farmers who sell their products to these local families. These families would also no longer be able to earn incentives by purchasing fruits and vegetables through SNAP, making it even more challenging for SNAP participants to afford healthy meals for their families.

We ask that the Food and Nutrition Service explore every possible option to ensure there is no disruption in EBT service at farmers markets during this critical market time. Local farmers and families depend on the ability to use SNAP in these markets and the consequences of any shutdown, no matter how brief, could be incredibly detrimental to the growing relationship between SNAP families and farmers.