Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

July 07, 2009

State Enables Farm Stands to Accept Food Stamps

Pilot Program Helps Match Families in Need with Fresh, Locally Grown Produce

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) today announced a pilot program that will help families in need access fresh, local and nutritious produce at farm stands in Chautauqua and Wayne Counties.  The program enables farm stands that up until now lacked the capability to accept and process Food Stamps.

“Using Food Stamps should not be a barrier to purchasing fresh, local produce at farmers’ markets,” said Governor David A. Paterson.  “This pilot program paves the way for Food Stamp recipients to purchase nutritious food grown by their local farmers, and we hope to expand it statewide.  Programs like these increase access to healthy, local food, which is good for New York's families and New York’s farmers.”


Since 2002, the New York State Farmers’ Market Wireless Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Program has outfitted farmers’ markets across New York State with the capability to accept Food Stamps.  Due to its tremendous success, generating over $400,000 in sales to farmers at 86 farmers’ markets in 2008, the program is being expanded on a trial basis to include privately owned and operated farm stands in two counties.  


Chautauqua and Wayne Counties were selected for this pilot program because they both have a high percentage of its population receiving Food Stamps and only a few farmers’ markets accepting Food Stamps, thus limiting Food Stamp recipients’ access to fresh, locally grown foods.


            New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said, “Food Stamp recipients should not be limited to purchasing fresh produce at traditional retail locations, when there are an increasing number of non-traditional retail locations, like farm stands that offer a good selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.  We are hopeful that this pilot project will result in a positive experience for both consumers and farmers so we can implement this program statewide.”


Deputy Director of State Operations Kristin Proud, who is overseeing OTDA, said, “With record-high Food Stamp enrollment in the state, we are doing all we can to make sure hard-working New Yorkers who may be struggling to make ends meet can afford to provide healthy, nutritious meals for themselves and their families. OTDA is committed to Governor Paterson’s goal of increasing healthy food options for children and adults across the State.”


Diane Eggert, Executive Director of the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York, said, “Enjoying the bounty of locally grown and produced foods should be an experience available to everyone. With this pilot project, food stamp consumers will now have the opportunity to experience the abundance, the variety and the superior flavor of fresh, locally grown foods grown and produced by farmers in Wayne and Chautauqua counties.”


This week the New York State Department of Agriculture, OTDA, the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York and Cornell Cooperative Extension will host informational meetings to explain how farm stands in Chautauqua and Wayne counties can benefit from participating in the Food Stamp program, as well as explain the opportunities and responsibilities in accepting Food Stamps.  The meetings are scheduled as follows:


Wayne County - July 8, 2009 at 8:00 a.m.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wayne County, 1581 Route 88N, Newark


Chautauqua County - July 8, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.

Sinclairville United Methodist Church, 49 Sinclair Drive, Sinclairville


New York State distributed over $2.8 billion in Food Stamp benefits last year to families that fall below economic thresholds.  To learn if you may be eligible for Food Stamps, and a host of other work supports, visit


For more information on the Farm Stand EBT Program or to register for the meetings, contact Jonathan Thomson at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets at 518-457-7076 or at


2009 Press Releases