There is currently a symbiotic relationship between small farmers and food aid recipients, as both are kept healthier by a government program called the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. But a disturbing Op-Ed piece in today’s NY Times points out that as states switch from paper coupons to debit cards for distributing food aid, many farmers’ market vendors would unable to accomodate those customers.
Without card readers, farmers fear they will lose the bulk of the farm bill help they get now, and be shut out of those new hundreds of millions. The proposals at the Agriculture Department and in the farm bill would let food-aid recipients buy fruits and vegetables wherever they can find them. That means supermarkets â€” which remain the most convenient place to buy produce. Farmersâ€™ market advocates are alarmed. The money will go to the centralized industrial farms that supply supermarkets, they say â€” the ones that crush small farmers and waste fuel.
See the whole article here.