USDA Working with Farmers

It’s been a part of the Obama administration almost since the beginning, and that’s the fight against obesity and the charge for better nutrition, especially for those with limited financial resources. Recently, Kevin Kincannon, USDA undersecretary for food an nutrition paid a visit to the Raleigh State Farmers’ Market to promote vendors acceptance of SNAP/EBT benefits. Market Manager, Ronnie Best:
 

“Well, the State Farmers’ Market, itself, we’re trying to get our vendors to do this EBT SNAP thing, we’ve had several meetings, we had a meeting about two years ago and actually put in phone lines so they could use the machines to accept these, then we heard about the wireless thing. We have put in wireless down in the farmers area. I think that there’s some expenses for the wireless machines to the farmer that maybe deterring them a little bit right now.”
 

There is some grant money available to help a farmers’ market get set up to accept EBT/SNAP benefits, Best feels this system may work better in smaller markets:
 

“My understanding of that was that that money would go to supply a market, for example this market, or a smaller farmers’ market, with the machine. And how that would work is that an EBT/SNAP customer would come to the office or come to that machine, swipe their card, receive wooden nickels, script, then they would take their wooden nickels/script down to the farmers and redeem for fresh produce and then the farmers would come back to the market and redeem those wooden nickels or script. Our market is so big, it’s really going to be hard for us to do that. I think Undersecretary Kincannon was also thinking that this money was going to go to the farmers to help buy the machinery needed.”
 

Since the Raleigh market now has wireless internet available, Best thinks that not only EBT/SNAP acceptance but credit card acceptance will increase among the vendors:
 

“Again, this is fairly new to us, it’s fairly new to our vendors, I think it’s something that’s coming. Since we’ve put the wireless in down at the market, that some of our vendors will start getting the credit card machines as well as the SNAP.”
 

In the end, it all comes down to the vendors being willing to accept any electronic transaction, be it EBT/SNAP or what have you. Best says change comes slowly at the Raleigh market, but it will come:
 

“We do accept Farmers Market Nutrition Vouchers which is just paper vouchers through the WIC program, and some of our vendors were kind of pushing back on accepting those at one time, then they saw the folks lining up with the paper vouchers, then now they’re ready to get on board. So, that’s what you’ll see; you’ll see folks loosing sales due to the EBT/SNAP program, and they’ll want to get involved in it. The snowball is a little slow getting going, but it will get going, it’ll roll on down the hill.”
 

Ronnie Best, manager of the State Farmers’ Market in Raleigh.
 


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