This action provides final rulemaking for a proposed rule. It revises the current bonding requirements imposed against participating retailers and wholesalers who have violated the Food Stamp Program rules and regulations. Currently, all violating retailers and wholesalers that are disqualified for a specified period of time or have a civil money penalty imposed in lieu of a disqualification for a specified period of time are required to submit a valid collateral bond, usually on an annual basis, if they wish to continue to participate in the Food Stamp Program. Over the years, securing a collateral bond has become increasingly more difficult for retailers and wholesalers. Thus, this final rule revises the current requirement in order to help alleviate the financial burden to those retailers and wholesalers who are required to submit such a bond and also to reduce the recordkeeping burden with respect to the FNS field offices which have to keep track of the expirations and renewals of these bonds.
This final rule also places in the Food Stamp Program regulations the longstanding policy FNS has adopted to accept irrevocable letters of credit (LOC) in lieu of collateral bonds. Lastly, this rule establishes a specified period of time for retailers and wholesalers to be removed from the program for accepting food stamp benefits in payment for eligible food on credit, a violation of the Food Stamp Program regulations.