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Congress Passes Farm Bill With Five Year SNAP Re-authorization

 

The Farm Bill passed last week reauthorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through 2023. The measure would largely maintain existing SNAP work requirements. The agreement requires the creation of a clearinghouse to prevent individuals from receiving SNAP benefits in more than one state simultaneously, and the USDA must review group facilities to ensure they aren’t receiving nutrition benefits from multiple programs.

Most significantly for retailers, the bill prohibits electronic benefit transfer processing fees through fiscal 2023. Specifically, it prohibits fees assessed by State benefit issuers related to the switching or routing of electronic benefit transfer transactions; requires a GAO study to examine EBT fees, outages and intermediaries providing services in-between redemption at retail food store and state-contracted EBT processors; requires USDA to review state EBT contract service agreements and compatibility of such systems with USDA fraud monitoring systems and the use of third-party applications that access EBT systems; directs the Secretary to issue guidance and regulations as appropriate based on the findings of the GAO study and USDA review; requires the Secretary to issue guidance to retail food stores on selecting EBT equipment and service providers that are able to provide sufficient transaction information to minimize the risk of fraudulent transactions; it also allows the Secretary to require applicant retailers to provide certain EBT-related information to the Secretary during the retail authorization process.

The final Farm Bill also legalizes hemp by removing it from the list of controlled substances. Hemp is classified as a schedule I drug -- those deemed to have a high abuse potential and no medical use -- along with marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), making it largely illegal at the federal level. The measure excludes hemp, which comes from the same plant species as marijuana but has low THC, from those definitions. The bill allows states and American Indian tribes to have primary regulatory authority over hemp production. USDA would have to approve their plans to regulate it in advance.

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