Maine Farm Food Access Program created to reimburse direct-market farms and farmers' markets SNAP/EBT equipment

Mon, 04/06/2020 - 4:45pm

AUGUSTA — The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets, is announcing the creation of the Maine Farm Food Access Program, to help direct-market farms, and farmers’ markets acquire wireless electronic benefits transfer (EBT) equipment to process USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) transactions, according to a news release.

FFAP reimburses the purchase price of the EBT equipment as well as related costs. Funded by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, FFAP reimbursements are available through September 2021, and applications are accepted online by clicking here.

“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,” according to Leigh Hallett, DACF Agricultural Resource Development Division Director. “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.

According to MFFMs Director of Programs, Jimmy DeBiasi, “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.”

Application Information and Resources

Farms that sell products directly to consumers by way of farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, and farm stands may be eligible. 

Interested applicants can apply online: surveymonkey.com/r/RealMaineEBT (Eligibility restrictions apply.) 

For more information, contact Ali Zipparo at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (207) 287-2232 or zipparo@maine.gov.

To learn how your farmers market can accept SNAP benefits, contact Jimmy DeBiasi at the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets (207) 370 1524, SNAP@mffm.org or mainefarmersmarkets.org/market-managers/maine-harvest-bucks.

Consumers should check with their local farms and farmers markets to inquire 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.