FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 2009
||Freda Butner, nutrition marketing specialist
NCDA&CS Marketing Division
(919) 733-7887, ext. 262
21st Century Farmers’ Markets Program enables farmers
to accept electronic payments from food stamp recipients
RALEIGH — A statewide initiative is making it possible for farmers markets in 12 North Carolina counties to accept Electronic Benefits Transfer card payments from consumers who are in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.
The 21st Century Farmers’ Markets Program is a partnership between the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Leaflight Inc., a Chapel Hill non-profit agency that promotes community development.
“This program will provide citizens with increased access to North Carolina’s abundance of nutritious, farm-fresh seasonal produce,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Customers will have added convenience at local farmers markets, and farmers can look forward to providing this convenience while gaining new customers.”
Leaflight is providing participating markets with free wireless card processing terminals and supplies, education, training, promotional materials, bookkeeping and accounting services.
Until now, many small farmers markets weren’t set up to accept EBT cards, which nutrition-assistance recipients use to pay for food. The cards, which are issued in North Carolina by the Division of Social Services, replaced paper food stamp coupons nationwide in 2002. The lack of EBT technology at farmers markets limited nutrition-assistance recipients’ access to fresh seasonal produce grown in North Carolina and hindered sales by N.C. farmers, Troxler said.
The 21st Century Farmers’ Market Program has enabled the following farmers markets to begin accepting EBT, credit and debit cards: Asheville City Market; Columbus County Community Farmers Market, Whiteville; Madison County Farmers and Artisans Market, Mars Hill; Rockingham County Farmers’ Market, Reidsville; Yancey County Farmers Market, Burnsville.
Other farmers markets will begin accepting cards in June. Check with these markets for the launch date: Davidson Farmer’s Market, Davidson; Durham Farmers’ Market; Lincoln County Farmers Market, Lincolnton; Onslow County Farmers’ Market, Jacksonville; Riverfront Farmers’ Market, Wilmington; Salisbury-Rowan Farmer’s Market; Watauga County Farmers’ Market, Boone.