From: Modern Farmer
Uncle Sam Makes It Easier for Your SNAP Benefits to Go Toward a CSA Share
The very thing that makes the community supported agriculture model a boon for farmers—customers pay for the whole season up front, enabling growers to purchase seeds, tools, and other supplies—has rendered CSA programs inaccessible to many low-income Americans, who typically don’t have several hundred dollars to spend all at once. But thanks to new language in last year’s Farm Bill, things are changing. Before the passage of the 2014 bill, farmers were able to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, but USDA regulations required that payments be credited weekly, at the point of pickup. Not only did that rob farmers of early-season buying power; it also cost them hours spent processing the transactions each week (SNAP works on an electronic debit system).
Retail Store Eligibility USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
To be eligible as a store in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), your store(s) must sell food for home preparation and consumption and meet one of the criteria below:
(A) Offer for sale, on a continuous basis, at least three varieties of qualifying foods in each of the following four staple food groups, with perishable foods in at least two of the categories:
- meat, poultry or fish
- bread or cereal
- vegetables or fruits
- dairy products
(B) More than one-half (50%) of the total dollar amount of all retail sales (food, nonfood, gas and services) sold in the store must be from the sale of eligible staple foods.
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) proposes to make changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations pertaining to the eligibility of SNAP retail food stores. The Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) amended the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act) to increase the requirement that certain SNAP authorized retail food stores have available on a continual basis at least three varieties of items in each of four staple food categories, to a mandatory minimum of seven varieties. The 2014 Farm Bill also amended the Act to increase, for certain SNAP authorized retail food stores, the minimum number of categories in which perishable foods are required from two to three. This proposed rule would codify these mandatory requirements.
Further, using existing authority in the Act and feedback from a Request for Information that included five listening sessions in urban and rural locations across the nation and generated 233 public comments, FNS is proposing several additional changes. Among other items, these proposed changes address depth of stock, amend the definition of staple foods, and amend the definition of “retail food store” to clarify when a retailer is a restaurant rather than a retail food store. The rulemaking also proposes that FNS begin disclosing to the public specific information about retailers who have violated SNAP rules.
To be assured of consideration, comments on this proposed rule must be received by the Food and Nutrition Service on or before April 18, 2016.
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA, invites interested persons to submit comments on this proposed rule. Comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:
- Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Preferred method; follow the online instructions for submitting comments on docket [insert docket number].
- Mail: Comments should be addressed to Vicky Robinson, Chief, Retailer Management and Issuance Branch, Retailer Policy and Management Division, Room 418, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302.
All comments submitted in response to this rulemaking will be included in the record and will be made available to the public. Please be advised that the substance of the comments and the identity of the individuals or entities submitting the comments will be subject to public disclosure. FNS will make the comments publicly available on the internet via: http://www.regulations.gov.
All submissions will be available for public inspection at the address above during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), Monday through Friday.