Agriculture, Community, Food, Health

Local Farmers Markets Could Be Losing Many of Their Customers

Fresh herbs are among the goods and produce sold at the Downtown Farmers Market © Charles Wainwright

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Audio Transcript: Farmers market

By: Brandon Williams SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — The USDA is deciding whether to continue to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to use SNAP at farmers markets in New York state. This could lead to changes for many local farmers markets.

Alice Maggiore, the communications manager of the Downtown Committee of Syracuse, said this program has been going on for about 10 years at the Downtown Farmers Market. She said farmers have benefited from this because it has brought more customers to the markets and created more money for farmers.

“They benefit because they’re selling their fresh produce, fruit and vegetables, regardless of how it’s paid for,” Maggiore said.

Many farmers are able to cover the cost equipment because of they money they receive from SNAP.

“Who would pay for the equipment and does that cost fall to the farmers?” Maggiore said.

She said that farmers markets are vital part of the community. “You are actually meeting the people who are growing your food and you foster conversations that way, foster friendships that way. I know our farmers market have repeat customers that come and see them every week to come get their items.”

“Hopefully the lawmakers realize it’s beneficial and they keep it.”

The Downtown Farmers Market partners with the Food Bank of Central New York to help SNAP recipients as well.

“For every $5 in tokens that’s purchased with SNAP, up to $20, that person also gets $2 from the Food Bank as well,” Maggoire said.

Ending this program would not only affect SNAP recipients, but it could have a negative impact on farmers markets in the area. Without the revenue they receive from SNAP, farmers could face a huge financial loss and this would hurt their business.

The USDA has yet to make a final decision and as of now the programs run until Aug. 31.