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If No Fix Found for Farmers Markets, Farmers and Low-Income Communities Likely to Take Hit
Novo Dia, a company that processes food assistance benefits at many farmers markets across the country, announced it would closing shop at the end of July. Novo Dia’s software allows SNAP benefits to be accepted electronically by farmers and sellers at many markets. The National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition programs has stepped in to keep the company going another month, but the problem of how to process future electronic food stamps still exists.
Evan Weissman is an assistant professor of food studies in the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition at Syracuse University’s Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.
“The impending loss of many farmers’ markets to process SNAP benefits will negatively impact access to fresh produce for many Americans. Additionally, farmers will lose business and farmers’ markets will lose customers. At many farmers’ markets, incentive programs provide additional food dollars to SNAP users, making the loss of SNAP users at farmers’ markets even greater.
“In short, the inability for farmers’ markets to accept SNAP benefits will hurt low-income communities and farmers alike.
“The recent announcement by the Novo Dia Group to stop processing SNAP transactions at farmers’ markets highlights the importance of public investments in key food system infrastructure. The United States Department of Agriculture supports SNAP usage at farmers’ markets by providing hardware but Novo Dia provides processing software.
“Farmers’ markets have seen a dramatic growth in SNAP usage with the ability to accept EBT, indicating a simultaneous expansion of healthful food access for low-income populations and growing markets for farmers.”
“Expanding SNAP usage at farmers’ markets is one of the few areas where we find political agreement in the contemporary United States. On the political left we find support for promoting public health and on the right there is support for market-based approaches that benefit farmers.”
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