A group of U.S. representatives has introduced new legislation called the Ensuring Fee-Free Benefit Transactions Act (H.R. 4103) to extend the ban on electronic benefits transfer (EBT) processing fees for retailers accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
Ensuring Fee-Free Benefit Transactions Act
The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) has expressed its support for the Ensuring Fee-Free Benefit Transactions Act which aims to permanently prohibit the imposition of fees on EBT transactions, CSP reported.
U.S. Representative Shontel Brown, the ranking member of the House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities, Risk Management, and Credit, along with cosponsors Representative Earl Blumenauer and Representative Sara Jacobs, is sponsoring the Ensuring Fee-Free Benefit Transactions Act.
Representative Brown highlighted the importance of permanently closing the loophole that allows retailers to be subjected to processing fees on SNAP transactions.
Such additional costs could burden small, minority-owned, or family-owned independent retailers, potentially leading them to stop accepting SNAP or increase their prices.
Brown emphasized the harmful impact this would have on her constituents in Northeast Ohio and individuals across the country.
Retailers participating in the SNAP program are required to provide their own equipment. The absence of a processing-fee prohibition would result in increased costs for these retailers.
As an alternative to the traditional plastic EBT debit card, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service is piloting a digital-payment app, allowing SNAP recipients to make payments using their mobile phones.
The administration of the SNAP program is carried out at the state level, with eligibility determined and benefits issued accordingly.
Qualified households receive benefits through this program. The Food and Nutrition Services division of the federal government encourages convenience-store operators to apply for qualification to accept SNAP benefits.
To be eligible for SNAP, retailers must meet specific criteria, including minimum stocking requirements, and be located in areas with limited access to food.
These stocking requirements involve ensuring access to staple food items such as vegetables or fruits, dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, bread, or cereals.
The proposed legislation aims to provide long-term relief to retailers by extending the ban on EBT processing fees, ensuring that they can continue to accept SNAP benefits without incurring additional costs.