Leahy Leads Effort To Bring Down SNAP Barriers At Local Farmers’ Markets

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, May 25, 2018) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Thursday secured language in the Senate Appropriations report on the annual Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that would bring down barriers to low-income families using their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at local farmers’ markets. The language would increase access to local, healthful and fresh food to low-income community members and expand direct market opportunities for Vermont farmers.

Leahy said: “This is just common sense. By expanding access to fresh produce we strengthen our communities’ ties to local agriculture and ensure that our neighbors and their children have access to the healthy food they need to thrive in their schools, their lives, and our communities.”

Under current law, SNAP benefits are accepted at certain farmers’ markets. But the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, the agency that administers SNAP, treats each farmers’ market location as a separate business, even if they are run by the same organization or legal entity. This requires each market to purchase and maintain the necessary equipment and obtain a SNAP authorization, even though individual locations may only be open for a few hours a week, which can be a costly administrative burden.

The language secured by Leahy would allow a single organization to administer SNAP at multiple farmers’ market locations, as a single entity, lowering program costs and widening access to local, healthy food

The language was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday and must now be considered by the full Senate, negotiated with the House, and signed by the President before becoming law.

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