Brown Urges Department of Agriculture to Ensure Hungry Ohioans Do Not Lose Access to Farmers Markets

Brown Joins Group of Senators Urging Dept. of Ag to Protect Families and Farmers

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today joined a group of Senators in urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure hungry Ohioans do not lose access to the healthy and local fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods they can purchase at farmers markets.

“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,” the Senators wrote in their letter.

As one of the primary vendors that services farmers markets through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) prepares to cease operations later this month, Brown wants to ensure families that use SNAP benefits to shop at farmers markets do not lose access to these vital markets. Furthermore, Brown wants to ensure farmers are not left without customers during the height of the farmers’ market season.

The Senators who penned this letter to the USDA along with Brown include: Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

 

A copy of their letter can be found below and HERE.

Mr. Brandon Lipps

Acting Deputy Undersecretary, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services

United States Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250

 

Dear Acting Deputy Undersecretary Lipps:

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 NovoDia, 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. 

 

Sincerely,

Senator Debbie Stabenow

Senator Sherrod Brown

Senator Patrick Leahy

Senator Bob Casey Jr.

Senator Jack Reed

Senator Amy Klobuchar

Senator Richard Blumenthal

Senator Chuck Schumer

Senator Tina Smith

Senator Claire McCaskill

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Senator Dianne Feinstein

 

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