The National Grocers Association has shared its support for the Ensuring Fee-Free Benefit Transactions Act, a bill promoted by Congresswoman Shontel Brown (D-OH) that would prohibit processing fees on benefit cards provided to SNAP participants.
“Independent community grocers are essential partners in SNAP, providing access to nutritious and affordable foods for American families in need. Retailers invest significant capital for the software, equipment, and training to provide SNAP benefits for their communities,” said Greg Ferrara, president and CEO.
“NGA was pleased to work with Congresswoman Brown on finding a permanent solution to prevent processing fees on SNAP transactions, which could result in limited access to SNAP for beneficiaries and negatively impact the retailers who are indispensable to the program.”
The bill aims to protect retailers from fees on EBT transactions, which would be cost prohibitive for many community and family-owned grocers that serve urban, rural and high-need areas.
In addition, the bill would ensure that retailers are responsible only for their own costs as USDA works to modernize EBT with chip cards and mobile payments.
The modernization will increase costs for all participating parties, including the federal government, states, EBT processors and retailers. However, it is NGA’s position that each party should pay its share of the costs and not pass them down to SNAP retailers.
“At Dave’s Markets, we are committed to making every one of our customers’ shopping experience the best it can be by providing exceptional freshness, services, product assortment and value” said Aaron Saltzman, a fifth-generation grocer of family-owned and -operated Dave’s Markets, located in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area.
“We operate stores in many diverse areas that are often deemed as food deserts, and we strive to tailor each store to meet the needs of the various communities. We take on large expenses in order to meet the needs of our shoppers, whether they are a SNAP participant or otherwise.
“Placing additional costs by way of processing fees in the SNAP program onto the retailer would harm our ability to best serve our local communities.”
Included in the 2018 Farm Bill was a provision that banned processing fees on EBT transactions through 2023. NGA has strongly urged Congress to make permanent the prohibition on EBT processing fees as they have never existed, and a ban on them would be in keeping with the historical standards of the program.