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SNAP Benefits Could Stay At Michigan Farmers Markets Thanks To Old Budget Item

Farmers Market
Vasenka Photography

About 50 farmers markets across Michigan are at risk of losing their ability to offer SNAP benefits, formerly food stamps, to customers. 

The company that processes their SNAP benefit transactions is going out of business after the federal government ended its contract with the company.  As a result, those 50 markets – and dozens of individual farm businesses – won’t be able to accept SNAP benefits when selling their produce and other goods. 

Amanda Shreve is with the Michigan Farmers Market Association.  She said the ability to accept SNAP benefits expands the customer base for farmers and farmers markets, “And it also allows farmers and markets to be more inclusive and serve all members of a community.  Not just those with disposable incomes.”

New York recently came to an agreement with the company, Novo Dia, to continue providing services through the end of the market season.  But it’s unclear if Michigan will be able to do the same.  Right now, farmers and farmers markets have until the end of August to transition to new technology, or else they won’t be able to offer SNAP benefits.

Shreve said there is some help on the way.  Farmers markets can use some money set aside in last year’s budget to help with the transition to a new operating system.

“We are trying to prepare markets and farmers in Michigan that are currently using this equipment that they need to make plans to transition to new equipment as soon as possible,” said Shreve.

Shreve said last year at least $600,000 in SNAP benefits were used at Michigan farmers markets.

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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