Providing EBT access at farmers markets is an important tool in ensuring that SNAP recipients have access to fresh, healthy food. The cost of EBT equipment and processing fees, however, can sometimes keep farmers and farmers markets from enrolling in and successfully offering EBT. The information presented here is intended to educate state agencies about how they can make it more affordable for farmers markets to adopt EBT technology.
On Aug. 9, 2016, FNS sent a letter to SNAP state agencies strongly encouraging states to provide a wireless, no-cost, SNAP-only point-of-sale (POS) option for markets and farmers in their state.
The letter reiterated long-standing FNS policy that farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers remain eligible to receive SNAP-only POS equipment (i.e., equipment that does not accept commercial credit or debit transactions) at no cost. This may be accomplished by including a provision in the EBT state processing contracts requiring that the contractor provide no-cost wireless equipment and service to FNS authorized farmers markets and direct marketing farmers.
The letter also states that because markets/farmers often lack access to electrical outlets and telephone lines, wireless EBT equipment is usually the most practical option for both farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers. (Although in some locations, lack of access to a reliable wireless signal may mean that wired equipment is preferred.) The letter notes that the costs associated with provision of no-cost, SNAP-only, wireless POS equipment are state SNAP administrative expenses eligible for federal 50:50 match.
We encourage state agencies to discuss with farmers market and direct marketing farmer organizations in their states the best approaches for ensuring access to reliable, quality, appropriate equipment that will be provided in a timely manner.