It's been a big year for the Crop Cash Program and the Crop Cash Plus pilot. For the first time this year, the Crop Cash Plus pilot provided SNAP customers with extra coupons for any SNAP-eligible food when they shopped at farmers markets -- expanding beyond produce to also include meats, eggs, cheese, and bread! The increased popularity of these programs meant that the amount of Crop Cash coupons spent at farmers markets this summer and fall more than tripled when compared to last year!
We have received an incredible amount of positive feedback from market shoppers and producers about the tremendous impact of these programs, including this note from a local meat and cheese producer who shared that, "Crop Cash Plus was a huge benefit for myself and the folks using them. When Crop Cash Plus (CCP) showed up at the market this summer I was overwhelmed with joy. Over the last many years, I had a few SNAP recipients purchase some of my wares in the season. I would turn in those coins once or twice in the year. With CCP, I was turning in several hundred dollars worth of coins EVERY OTHER week. It was so good to see the folks have so much more buying power. How thrilled they were to have that extra cash. How thrilled I was to see so many new folks attending the market. CCP added an extra 20% to my weekly sales. This is the greatest most rewarding program."
While we consider it a huge success that so many folks had more buying power to support local producers at farmers markets this season, this surge in demand and the associated rise in cost resulted in a need to pause the Crop Cash and Crop Cash Plus programs for the rest of the holiday and winter market season. Specifically, beginning on December 1, 2023, no Crop Cash or Crop Cash Plus coupons will be distributed or redeemed. Customers can use their coupons through November 30th at the winter markets listed on the Crop Cash webpage, and continue to use SNAP benefits (without the Crop Cash match) at those markets thereafter.
We are so sorry to see these programs come to an early end for this season, as it is clear how impactful these programs are for Vermont households and producers. We have seen enormous growth in demand for Crop Cash and access to local food since the pandemic, and are working very hard at NOFA-VT to continue supporting this growth. We expect to restart Crop Cash as usual for the summer 2024 season and have submitted a request to the state to fund Crop Cash Plus again in 2024. The Crop Cash program is primarily funded through the federal Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). This year, through a one-time allocation from the state of Vermont, we were also able to pilot the Crop Cash Plus Program.
If you would like to help us make the case to continue the Crop Cash Plus pilot and increase the use of Crop Cash, we invite you to share how important these programs are to your household and/or your farm by sending a statement via email to [email protected]. Thank you for helping empower Vermonters and supporting local farmers through these programs.