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USDA partners with Market Link to make SNAP acceptance an easier process for farmers and farmers' markets!
May 1st, 2014 marks the start of another season of Produce Perks at Cuyahoga County farmers' markets. We are currently planning to reach out to markets in Cuyahoga that do not already accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance - food stamps) to offer them the technical assistance to do so. For any markets that are interested in SNAP, we are happy to assist in the process in order to participate in Perks this 2014 season. USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) requires that any business wishing to accept SNAP get certified by their Food and Nutrition Services Department. This past fall, USDA helped us out quite a bit and commissioned a group called Market Link to provide comprehensive assistance to markets across the US in this very process and we urge you to utilize this website and resource if you are a market manager interested in exploring this method of payment (or if you are a customer/champion who wants a market to accept SNAP). The website walks you step by step through the USDA application and provides you a FAQ on accessing equipment like iPhones, etc. to process SNAP cards. There are eligibility restrictions, however if you fail to meet the eligibility guidelines, equipment and processing fees are offered where you can take advantage of the nationally negotiated low prices and processing fees.The Market Link program negotiates a rate for farmers and farmers' markets that is as much as 40% lower than what businesses pay.
According to Market Link's fact sheet, current research validates the potential benefits:
- Washington State University published a study in April of 2013 based on 17 farmers' markets accepting credit, debit and SNAP electrnics benefit transfer (EBT).The project measured impact of wireless transactions from July-October 2011.
- $285,211 was spent at these markets using credit, debit and SNAP EBT.
- The average sale using SNAP, debit and credit was $34.57.
- Only 6% of the market transactions were in cash.