The 3 Different Ways Farmers Markets and Farmers Are Accepting SNAP

      Posted On: October 24, 2012

guest post by Daniel Bowman Simon, SNAP Gardens

The 3 Different Ways Farmers Markets and Farmers Are Accepting SNAP EBT infographic was created to help people understand how SNAP EBT can be implemented at farmers markets.  This infographic was designed by the talented Matt Hannigan, who is excited at the prospect of working on other farmers market design projects.

More and more farmers markets are coming online with systems to accept SNAP EBT so that everyone, regardless of their income level, has access to the healthy, fresh, local food sold at the markets.  For farmers and other vendors, the extra sales can help keep their business viable, as well as the market itself.

There are a few ways to implement EBT systems at farmers markets. While no statistics are readily available, it seems that the most popular system is the CENTRAL TERMINAL WIRELESS PROGRAM using TOKENS. This is the system that the $4 million released by the USDA currently supports.

The CENTRAL TERMINAL WIRELESS PROGRAM using PAPER CHITS allows shoppers to determine exactly what they want to purchase before swiping their EBT card, which may help increase sales, but there is some additional hassle for the farmers and for the shopper. (Additionally, some states prohibit this system.)

Meanwhile, there is some preliminary evidence that FARMER OPERATED EBT WIRELESS PROGRAMS can help individual farmers increase their sales, although additional costs are incurred in operating the system.  Some vendors who sell at markets that operate on the token system still choose to operate their own EBT machines as well.

It is worth noting that many vendors are now experimenting with iPhone credit and debit card payments using Square and other mobile solutions.  Unfortunately, they are not currently able to accept EBT payments, due in part to the way the most recent Farm Bill legislation is written.

The 2012 Farm Bill, if passed, could change that.  S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, which passed the full Senate , and H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012, which passed the House Agriculture committee but has yet to come to a floor vote in the House, both allow for pilot programs to demonstrate the viability of such systems.  Stay tuned.

You can download both infographics from the Resource Library.