The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) seeks fruit, vegetable, herb, and honey producers to become certified vendors for Louisiana’s Senior and WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). This program provides food benefits to qualified low-income senior citizens and WIC recipients to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey (Senior FMNP only) grown locally by Louisiana farmers and sold at farmers’ markets and roadside stands that have been approved by LDAF.
In addition to helping our seniors and WIC recipients access fresh produce, herbs, and honey, the program offers our local farmers access to another revenue pool. The program dollars may only be spent with farmers who grow their own produce and participate in the program. The funds cannot be spent at grocery stores.
Approved farmers’ markets and roadside stands will be added to the directory for the seniors and WIC recipients to reference when looking for locations to spend their dollars. This allows program vendors to increase their customer base, and, in turn, the program offers more options to our low-income seniors and WIC recipients in their purchasing locations.
The program is undergoing some essential updates this year. Specifically, it will be moving to an electronic payment system utilizing QR code benefits cards and a smartphone/tablet application to make transactions quick and convenient. This is a direct benefit to the program vendors as it cuts down on administrative work and the time it takes to receive the funds from the program.
“The modernization of the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program will result in less cost and greater efficiency with the fact that the cards can be recharged each year and will provide for a rapid reimbursement system for the farmers,” said the LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.
The new system also allows for purchasing flexibility, whereas the voucher system did not. Under the voucher system, farmers could not give change for the coupons; therefore, all purchases had to be at least $4. The new program works like a debit card leaving the balance available for the next purchase. This is a significant benefit to both vendors and program participants.
“I’m excited to see where the program will go with these enhancements,” said Commissioner Strain. “The program provides an invaluable service to our seniors and WIC recipients, and we want to see it continue to serve these populations for many years to come.”
If you are a producer of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and/or honey and sell your commodities at a roadside stand or farmers’ market, the LDAF encourages you to join the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program. The certification is free of charge, and training on the program and purchasing rules will be provided.
Please call 985-345-9483 if you are interested in becoming a certified farmer in this program.