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USDA Extends Retailer Comment Deadline For SNAP Rules

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Last updated on June 13th, 2024 at 05:07 pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has implemented a 30-day extension to the comment period for its proposed rule to change the requirements that retailers must meet to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Retailers will now have until May 18 to file comments on the proposal.

This extension follows calls from various legislators and a request by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

The proposal, as drafted, will implement the provisions included within the 2014 Farm Bill, which require retailers to stock more varieties of products in four “staple food” categories: meat, poultry, or fish; bread or cereal; vegetables or fruits; and dairy. Specifically, retailers must stock at least seven different varieties of food items in each of the four staple food categories. (Before the 2014 Farm Bill, retailers had to stock three different varieties in each staple food category.) In addition, retailers will be required to offer at least one perishable food item in three of those categories rather than two.

FNS also included several proposed changes that went significantly beyond the statutory requirements in the Farm Bill. The proposal would make it so “multiple ingredient” items, such as lasagna or chicken pot-pie, would not be counted in any staple food category and would not go toward a retailer’s “depth of stock” requirements. According to NACS, this is a dramatic change from current rules, which permit multiple ingredient items to be counted in one staple food category depending on the main ingredient. The proposal also would add a “stocking requirement” whereby retailers would always have to have six different units of any food item on display at any given time.

According to NACS, the proposal will make it increasingly difficult for convenience retailers to participate in the SNAP program, thereby negatively impacting the many SNAP recipients that use their benefits at convenience stores.

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The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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