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State makes move to continue farm market sales to people receiving SNAP benefits

State makes move to continue farm market sales to people receiving SNAP benefits

New York farmers, including those who sell at the Rochester City Public Market, will be able to continue selling to SNAP recipients after the state leap-frogged over a federal problem that could have halted farm market sales to people who receive public food assistance.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded a contract for processing the sales from recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to a brand-new company that didn’t have the necessary mobile technology for making the transactions. As a result, the company that used to process those sales across the country was in danger of going out of business.  On Friday, New York State and the Farmers Market Federation of New York announced they have reached an agreement to have Novo Dia Group process farm market sales with SNAP benefits in this state through the rest of the farm market season.

Nearly $3.4 million in sales have been made at farm markets across the state to New York’s SNAP recipients.

“New York will not stand idly by as the federal government’s ineptitude takes food out of the mouths of New Yorkers,” said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in a news release. “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 While the federal government doles out a contract to an untested company using outdated technology, we will continue to protect not only our most vulnerable residents, but our hard-working farmers.”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 state also suggested that New York’s solution could be a model for other states. Novo Dia had been serving 1,700 markets across the nation.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo’s quick action in shoring up Novo Dia Group for the remainder of the market season and making it possible for SNAP to be used at farmers’ markets,” said Diane Eggert, executive director of the market federation. “Losing access to SNAP through the Novo Dia Group would have been devastating to farmers’ markets. Low income consumers would lose access to fresh, healthy and locally grown foods, while our state’s farmers would have lost significant income that is critical to supporting our family farmers.”

Richard A. Ball, state commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, also praised the governor’s quick action and added: “The possibility of any kind of disruption of service for those who rely on the electronic benefits service is not acceptable, and we will continue to work with OTDA, the Farmers Market Federation of NY and Novo Dia toward a long-term solution for our communities.”

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