March 25, 2010 Senator Carol Liu Chair, Senate Human Services Committee 1020 N Street, Rm.

521 Sacramento, CA 95815 RE: AB 537 (Arambula) EBT in Farmers’ Markets and Flea Markets – Support Dear Senator Liu and Members of the Human Services Committee: I am writing on behalf of Ubuntu Green, in strong support of AB 537 (Arambula), which would require farmer’s markets and flea markets to accept electronic benefit transfers (EBT). Ubuntu Green is a Sacramento-based 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting green principles in low-income and communities of color. AB 537 would make food sold at farmers’ markets more readily available for purchase by consumers who use food stamps, by allowing individual farmers to operate an EBT system at a certified farmers’ market or flea market if by 2012 the market manager has chosen not to operate the system on its own. Farmers currently have the ability to, and in some cases have already taken the initiative to form a Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)-certified entity to accept EBT. However, it is more efficient for the consumers and the vendors for the farmers markets’ manager to take on this responsibility directly. Unfortunately, not all market managers are willing to take on this opportunity. Therefore, AB 537 allows for farmers in those markets that do not already operate an EBT acceptance system by 2012, to do so independently. The United States Department of Agriculture currently funds the Department of Social Services (DSS) to cover their costs to operate EBT. In addition, California has set aside funds to assist markets with funding EBT and provides free EBT equipment to farmers’ markets and flea markets on a voluntary basis. Furthermore, DSS maintains a rigorous requirement of minimum sales in order to retain these free devices. AB 537 will simply facilitate the existing process by giving farmers the right to take initiative to maximize their sales to EBT customers.

2614 - 36th Street Sacramento, CA 95817 T 916-699-0671 www.ubuntugreen.org

Of the nearly 600 Certified Farmers Markets1, only about 20% of them are set up to process food stamps. Although, AB 537 does not directly require every market to accept EBT, AB 537 will give farmers the ability to work together with DSS to make it happen. AB 537 will eliminate the barriers that prevent many of our state’s neediest consumers from taking advantage of the local, nutritional alternatives available at farmers’ markets. We urge you to vote Yes on AB 537. Sincerely,

Charles L. Mason, Jr. President and CEO Ubuntu Green

Cc:

Assemblymember Juan Arambula Members of the Senate Human Services Committee

1

California Department of Food and Agriculture

2614 - 36th Street Sacramento, CA 95817 T 916-699-0671 www.ubuntugreen.org

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