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The state has created a new program to help direct-market farms and farmers markets obtain wireless electronic benefits transfer equipment so they can process purchases though the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets, created the Maine Farm Food Access Program, which will reimburse the price of the EBT equipment as well as related costs, according to a news release.
Funded by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, the reimbursements are available through September 2021, and applications are accepted online.
“The goal of FFAP is to ensure more Mainers have access to local foods by increasing the number of farms and farmers markets accepting SNAP benefits in Maine,” Leigh Hallett, DACF agricultural resource development division director, said in the release.
“We know that farmers want to make their products available to shoppers who use SNAP benefits, but often the cost of equipment and fees is prohibitively expensive. This program will help more farmers get involved, so more communities will have SNAP access for local foods.”
The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets provides technical assistance and resources to farmers markets and also operates the Maine Harvest Bucks incentive program, which provides bonus fruits and vegetables to shoppers using SNAP.
“The number of EBT transactions made at Maine farmers markets has been steadily increasing throughout the state, which means more Mainers have better access to locally produced food,” the federation’s director of programs, Jimmy DeBiasi, said in the release.
Farms that sell products directly to consumers by way of farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture programs, and farm stands may be eligible. Eligibility restrictions apply.
Consumers should check with local farms and farmers markets about whether they accept federal SNAP benefits. Agriculture and food operations, including farmers markets, CSAs and farm stands, are considered essential services, and many remain open during the current civil state of emergency.
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