New USDA Provider Not Providing SNAP Use At Farmers’ Markets, Cuomo Outraged

ALBANY – Reports that inaction by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue the use of SNAP (food stamps) at farmers’ markets have spurred Gov. Andrew Cuomo to write to the USDA.
Cuomo issued the letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdu.

“I am writing with deep outrage that as the result of USDA’s inaction, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients may no longer be able to use their benefits at farmers’ markets,” Cuomo wrote. “Your office sent us notice yesterday that Novo Dia Group, the only USDA-authorized contractor of a cellular-based redemption system app for smartphones, would be closing in 20 days – right in the middle of the busy farmers’ market season. A brand-new company, which does not provide smart phone capabilities like Novo Dia Group, has apparently been awarded the USDA contract. This will result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of fresh food transactions for SNAP recipients. As a result, both farmers and SNAP beneficiaries will suffer.”

Cuomo wrote that thousands of families and small farms will be adversely effected by the change in application providers.
“USDA’s failure to cultivate and approve mobile applications that allow access to farmers’ markets for SNAP recipients is incredibly reckless, and demonstrates the Trump administration’s lack of regard for those who will be left behind as your agency attempts to provide new Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) equipment with a new operator,” Cuomo wrote.

No one has been given any information on the transition from the previous SNAP EBT program provider to the oncoming provider, Cuomo said.

“Additionally, there has been no guidance on how this transition will be implemented – not to vendors, not to farmers, not to families relying on these benefits, and not to USDA’s SNAP partners in New York State, the Department of Agriculture & Markets and the Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance” he wrote.

The State has been supporting the implementation and use of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) for SNAP recipients at our farmers’ markets since 2002. Last year, New York processed $3.4 million through 221,051 transactions at 243 sites, providing healthy, nutritious food to nearly 60,000 New York households, Cuomo explained.

USDA’s failure to maintain an EBT system for SNAP benefits is the worst of government ineptitude and is a rejection of your agency’s core principles.