New bill could force vendors to accept EBT, SNAP at farmer's markets



ORLANDO, Fla. - A state lawmaker wants to make it easy for people on food stamps to buy fresh produce at farmer's markets.

But one vendor told Channel 9's Roy Ramos why his bottom line would suffer if that bill becomes law.

"Asking all these little guys who do farmer's markets all over the country to accept EBT and get a point-of-sales system at the farmers market seems ridiculous to me," said Troy Gage of Eat More Produce in Winter Park.

When the city's farmer's market comes around, Gage said he's always one of the vendors out there selling his produce, but after hearing that Sen. Geraldine Thompson is proposing a bill that would require open market vendors to accept EBT or SNAP benefits, an inconvenience was the first thing that came to mind.

"We use it in our store but we don't use it in our off-site locations, simply because we are not going to invest in POS systems for small, little markets outdoors and things like that," said Gage. "It is just not functional."

The system seemed to be a burden for some produce vendors, so Channel 9 took those concerns strait to state Rep. Reggie Fullwood, a house sponsor to the Senate bill.

 "What do you have to say to the vendors out there that say this may be a little bit of an inconvenience?" asked Ramos.

"Hopefully the vendors realize that could potentially help them make more money," said Fullwood.

Fullwood said the program would also help less-fortunate families to eat healthier but at whose expense would that be happening?

"We don't want to hurt any small businesses," said Fullwood. "We don't want to hurt any vendors at all.  This is just an initiative to try and get folks to who are receiving those public dollars, those benefits, to eat healthier and stretch their dollar more."

Fullwood said that if the bill is to pass it will go into effect July 1. 

The Department of Agriculture told Channel 9 it has a program where vendors can get the EBT processing machine for free.