Greenmarket is one of the nation's largest and oldest farmers market operators, working with over 230 producers in 53 locations throughout New York city's five boroughs. Our farmers preserve over 30,000 acres of regional farmland and we operate the largest food stamp in the farmers market program in the country. I implore you to restore the $1.3 million cut from the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) in New York State.
FMNP is a win-win program. Seniors and WIC participants receive $20 and $24 checks respectively to purchase fresh produce from the farmers market during high season (June to November.) While these sums do not seem large, they ensure that our urban low-income seniors and young and expecting families have access to the freshest, most nutritious fruits and vegetables available. Moreover, it provides crucial revenue to small farmers and our rural economies by reinvesting real dollars into family businesses. Nearly half of FMNP funds are spent annually in New York City’s Greenmarkets, with our farmers redeeming $2.5 million in 2011.
The federal government has cut WIC FMNP by 30% ($1.16 million) and Senior FMNP by 7.5% ($140,000), totaling $1.3 million, in 2012. This will result in farmers markets closing in neighborhoods that need them most, inflicting real economic harm on these vulnerable groups during one of the deepest recessions of our lifetime.
Farmers who sell in markets in low-income communities depend heavily on programs such as FMNP and EBT/food stamps for their income. At some Greenmarkets, such as Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, and Corona, Queens, farmers receive almost no cash sales, with customers relying on federal and state nutrition programs to feed their families healthy foods. With drastic cuts to FMNP, farmers will not be able to afford to sell at some markets, resulting in market closures and the removal of what is sometimes one of the only healthy sources of food in a neighborhood.
I can’t stress enough how vital a fully funded FMNP program is to keeping farms in business and keeping markets open in low income areas around the city. Without this program, farms will suffer, markets will likely close and the city’s most venerable residents will lose access to the healthiest and most nutritious produce available.
I call on you to restore vital funding to the FMNP to support our urban and rural economies.