Washington D.C. – The National Grocers Association (NGA), the national trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, applauded the introduction of the Ensuring Fee-Free Benefit Transactions (EBT) Act, a bill championed by Congresswoman Shontel Brown (D-OH-11) that would prohibit the processing fees on benefit cards provided to participants on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“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, NGA 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.”
Fees on EBT transactions will be cost prohibitive for many community and family-owned grocers that service urban, rural, and high-need areas. This bill protects retailers from these processing fees. Additionally, this bill ensures that retailers are only responsible 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 but each party must pay their share of the costs and not pass them down to SNAP retailers. It is critical that we ensure these fees and costs are not passed on to retailers so that they can continue to support their communities.
“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. We operate stores in many diverse areas that are often deemed as food deserts, and we strive to tailor each store to meeting 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,” said Aaron Saltzman, a fifth-generation grocer of family-owned and operated Dave’s Markets, located in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area.
Included in the 2018 Farm Bill was a provision that banned processing fees on EBT transactions through 2023. NGA strongly urges Congress to make permanent the prohibition on EBT processing fees as these fees have never existed, and therefore, a ban on these fees is in keeping with the historical standards of the program.
NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale community grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for about 1.2 percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating more than $250 billion in sales, 1.1 million jobs, $39 billion in wages and $36 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers located in every congressional district across the country, as well as state grocers’ associations, manufacturers and service suppliers. For more information about NGA, visit www.nationalgrocers.org.