The National Grocers Association (NGA) stated its support for the Ensuring Fee-Free Benefit Transactions (EBT) Act (S.2449), a bicameral bill introduced by Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Peter Welch (D-VT) to prohibit processing fees on electronic benefit cards provided to participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The NGA said grocers invest significant resources in software, equipment, and training to offer SNAP benefits to their communities. Implementing processing fees on EBT transactions would pose financial challenges for community and family-owned grocers serving various areas, including urban, rural, and high-need regions.
“Independent community grocers play a vital role in ensuring access to healthy and affordable food for families in need through SNAP. These retailers make substantial investments in software, equipment, and training to facilitate SNAP benefits for their communities,” stated Greg Ferrara, NGA president & CEO.
“NGA is proud to work alongside Senators Luján and Welch to secure a permanent solution that eliminates processing fees on SNAP transactions. This step is crucial in avoiding potential restrictions on SNAP access for beneficiaries and mitigating adverse effects on the indispensable retailers who contribute to the program’s success,” Ferrara added.
The bill aims to protect retailers from these fees and ensure they are only responsible for their costs. At the same time, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working on modernizing EBT with chip cards and mobile payments.
“At John Brooks Supermarket, we believe in delivering an unparalleled shopping experience each and every day. Our unwavering dedication to the communities we serve has led to our expansion from a single store to four locations across New Mexico. We are dedicated to ensuring exceptional freshness, a diverse product assortment, and unbeatable value for all shoppers, regardless of their participation in SNAP. Imposing additional processing fees on retailers through the SNAP program would hamper our ability to fulfill our commitment to serving our local communities to the fullest,” said Kathy Dominguez of John Brooks Supermarket, a five-store operator in New Mexico.
The 2018 Farm Bill included a provision that banned processing fees on EBT transactions until 2023. As a top priority for the Farm Bill reauthorization, NGA urges Congress to permanently prohibit these fees, as such fees have historically not existed.