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Using a Case Approach to Assess Farmers’ Attitudes Regarding Central Terminal Model Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Programs at Selected Michigan Farmers Markets /

by Dru N. Montri; Kimberly Chung; Bridget K. Behe; Professor, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, 1066 Bogue Street, Room A238 Plant and Soil Science Building, East Lansing, MI 48824; Department of Horticulture and Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University, 480 Wilson Road, Room 17D Natural Resources Building, East Lansing, MI 48824; Associate Professor, Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University, 480 Wilson Road, Room 317 Natural Resources Building, East Lansing, MI 48824.
Material type: materialTypeLabelComputer fileSeries: HortTechnology.Publisher: American Society for Horticultural Science, 2013Description: Journal article.ISSN: 1943-7714.Online resources: Link to original article. In: HortTechnology (Vol.) 23. (No.) 1. 2013. (Pages.) 38-43.Summary: Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has pushed to increase the number of farmers markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as food stamps) via Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). However, a small percentage of farmers markets accept SNAP and little is known of the experience of the farmer-vendors who participate in central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets. The objective of this exploratory study was to elucidate farmers’ attitudes regarding central terminal model EBT programs at selected Michigan farmers markets. This study used qualitative research methods and a case approach. Thirty-two farmers that participated in central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets were interviewed. Three main themes emerged. First, based on their experiences, farmers expressed a positive attitude toward central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets. Second, positive attitudes were often associated with the view that market managers had made it easy for farmers to accept EBT benefits and freed them from the administrative burdens of redemption and federal reporting. Third, farmers believed that accepting food assistance benefits attracted new customers to the farmers market thus expanding their customer base. While these results may not be reflective of farmers’ attitudes in other regions, the themes that emerged highlight topics that may be important considerations when making future decisions about the expansion of electronic food assistance programs at farmers markets.
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Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has pushed to increase the number of farmers markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as food stamps) via Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). However, a small percentage of farmers markets accept SNAP and little is known of the experience of the farmer-vendors who participate in central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets. The objective of this exploratory study was to elucidate farmers’ attitudes regarding central terminal model EBT programs at selected Michigan farmers markets. This study used qualitative research methods and a case approach. Thirty-two farmers that participated in central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets were interviewed. Three main themes emerged. First, based on their experiences, farmers expressed a positive attitude toward central terminal model EBT programs at farmers markets. Second, positive attitudes were often associated with the view that market managers had made it easy for farmers to accept EBT benefits and freed them from the administrative burdens of redemption and federal reporting. Third, farmers believed that accepting food assistance benefits attracted new customers to the farmers market thus expanding their customer base. While these results may not be reflective of farmers’ attitudes in other regions, the themes that emerged highlight topics that may be important considerations when making future decisions about the expansion of electronic food assistance programs at farmers markets.

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