In mid-July Farmers Markets were dealt a cold hand when the U.S. Department of Agriculture took contract that provides SNAP EBT equipment and services for farmers markets from Novo Dia and awarded it to a company that does not support mobile, cellular-based transactions. Personally, the only farmers markets I’ve been to (more than a few and in four states) have only used mobile, cellular-based equipment to process electronic transactions.
In the ensuing weeks, Farmers Market Federation of New York had been working toward a solution with the State of New York. On July 19th the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP) provided Novo Dia Group operational funding for an additional 30 days so that stakeholder states would not experience any disruption in processing. Then on July 27th, Governor Cuomo came in with a Hail Mary Pass to save the rest of the markets’ season.
New York State made a short-term agreement with Novo Dia to provide uninterrupted access for SNAP recipients to continue to make purchases at farmers’ markets, which also benefits local farmers during their busiest season.
“New York will not stand idly by as the federal government’s ineptitude takes food out of the mouths of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “This is just another example of the Trump administration’s continued assault on the nation’s most needy. While the federal government doles out a contract to an untested company using outdated technology, we will continue to protect not only our most vulnerable residents, but our hard-working farmers.”
The New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will continue to work on a more permanent solution. This agreement also lays the groundwork for the other forty-nine states and Washington DC who may benefit from New York’s lead, despite the federal government’s actions disrupting service to low-income individuals and families who rely on SNAP assistance.