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WIC fruit and vegetable vouchers: Small farms face barriers in supplying produce

  • Author(s): Hardesty, Shermain D
  • Leff, Penney
  • Baameur, Aziz
  • Aguiar, Jose Luis
  • Jimenez, Manuel J
  • Zeltser, Yelena
  • Kaiser, Lucia L
  • et al.
Abstract

By October 2009, all 50 states had implemented a revised WIC program with produce vouchers for millions of eligible families. USDA economists had projected the vouchers would raise net farm revenues by $76 million. In response to such a significant policy change and market opportunity, a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension team of researchers conducted a pilot project to test the ability of small farms to market produce locally to WIC-authorized stores known as A-50 vendors. They also interviewed store owners and produce distributors to determine how produce was entering the supply chain to the A-50 vendors. The pilot project was not successful in helping small growers enter the supply chain. The analysis indicates that it is improbable that small farms will be selling much produce to A-50 vendors; growers’ price expectations are unlikely to be met since these vendors are competing with large retailers. And although the vouchers can be redeemed at farmers markets, very few are because the process is cumbersome for growers and shoppers.

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