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Policy Update: SNAP Modernization Bill Introduced, Allowing Online EBT Purchases from Farmers

On July 2, Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Expanding SNAP Options Act, which would increase the ability of SNAP recipients to purchase food online from a range of retailers, including direct-sales farmers. While some states currently allow online purchases, they tend to only work with a single, large, national retailer, such as Wal-Mart and Amazon. AFT put out a statement today in support of the legislation.

The bill would require the Secretary of Agriculture to develop and roll out an online, nationwide SNAP program. A competitive contract would be drafted to hire an organization to create an online portal allowing retailers to accept EBT benefits without having to create their own expensive online payment portals. The program would specifically allow SNAP recipients to use their benefits at small and local grocery retailers, non-profits and, most notably, direct-to-market farmers. There would also be a technical service center to aid eligible entities to accept online EBT payments. The portal would be mandated to not cost retailers more than a “nominal fee” for use, and would be fully operational within 180 days of the contract award.

The Act would allow small retailers and farms which have been especially impacted by the pandemic to get additional business without the need to invest in expensive private payment portals. It would also enable many SNAP recipients to support local businesses without physically entering a store.

About the Author
Emily Liss

Federal Policy Associate

eliss@farmland.org

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