New Jersey farmer Liang Shao Hua listens to NRCS technical advisor Frank Wu provide advice in Chinese Mandarin, Liang’s native language. His limited English proficiency restricted his exposure to USDA farm programs until Tropical Storm Sandy made it necessary for Liang to connect with the department for assistance. He is now an FSA loan recipient and appreciates the cost-share benefits of the Emergency Conservation Program funds that assisted his family’s clean-up efforts.
Disasters create pain. And recovery from disasters creates partnerships and opportunity.
That is the lesson Liang Shao Hua learned in the past year after Tropical Storm Sandy, also known as Super Storm Sandy, destroyed his New Jersey high-tunnel farming operation and left him wondering how to manage his loss.
Liang, a Chinese American with very limited English proficiency, relied first on his American-born son, Peter, a 21-year-old college student studying at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York. Peter obtained USDA paperwork from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) that helped his father apply for Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funds. He, his brother, David, 19, and mother, Pei Yin, joined Liang in the clean-up efforts.
Liang Shao Hua was among 315 successful applicants for ECP, one-third from New Jersey. The applicants stretched from West Virginia to New Hampshire. That was the wide swath where Sandy and her trailing cold front left a path of destruction to Atlantic Coast and New England farms. Read more »
The Colorado Farmers Market Association, the City Heights Open Air & Certified Farmers Market in San Diego, Calif. and Greenmarket in New York City did it with help of the Farmers Market Promotion Program. The Athens Farmers Market in Athens, Ohio was among the first market in Ohio to do it and Detroit’s Eastern Market is seeing record-breaking sales now that they have joined the program.
These farmers markets are among the more than 1,100 farmers markets and farm stands that have implemented the Electronic Benefits Transfer system and now accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at their markets.
Implementing a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at farmers markets can sometimes feel overwhelming. To make it easier, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), in collaboration with the non-profit Project for Public Spaces, has just released “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at Farmers Market: A How-To Handbook” .
The Handbook provides essential guidance for farmers market managers installing an Electronic Benefits Transfer machine and advice for making the program work successfully for vendors and customers. It also features a list of resources, a glossary of important terms, and several case studies from farmers markets that have successfully implemented an Electronic Benefits Technology system. This Handbook is part of the USDA’s commitment to building more direct market opportunities for producers, expanding both of these benefits at farmers markets, and addressing food deserts, especially those in low-income areas.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is not the only food assistance program welcomed at farmers markets. Customers can take advantage of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, a voucher program specifically for low-income seniors. Families qualifying for the Women, Infants and Children Program can use those benefits at farmers markets across the country as well. For those customers on the lookout for a farmers market that welcomes these benefits, the USDA Farmers Market Directory has a comprehensive list.
SNAP at Farmers Markets Handbook