Farmers' Markets, Farmers, and EBT

In order to participate in the EBT Farmers’ Market Program in California, each market must be authorized by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. To apply, call (877) 823-4369 or click here

Most EBT farmers’ markets use scrip. Scrip is a type of currency, in the form of paper or tokens (wooden or plastic), designed to be unique to each market, in denominations of $.50 and/or $1.00. From a central location at the farmers’ market, EBT cardholders can use their EBT cards to purchase scrip. They use this scrip to purchase CalFresh-eligible items from farmers at the market. At the end of the day, farmers are reimbursed by the market for the amount of scrip they have received. 

IMPORTANT: A farmers’ market must have its scrip approved by the FNS before the market can participate in the Farmers’ Market Program. Visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/ebt/fm.htm for more information, or call the Farmers’ Market Specialist at the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) at (916) 654-1396.

Transaction Process
There are two ways for a farmers’ market to process an EBT/scrip transaction: 

  • Wired point-of-sale (POS) equipment
  • Wireless POS device

Wired POS Device
Standard wired POS equipment is provided by the state to farmers’ markets and direct-marketing farmers authorized by the FNS to accept SNAP/CalFresh benefits. Wired POS equipment requires an electrical outlet and an analog telephone line or wired Internet access.

Wireless POS Device
This is a mobile version of the standard wired POS equipment; it does not require a telephone line or an electrical outlet to process EBT transactions, but rather uses cellular data services to connect to the state’s EBT system. Because a wireless device is more costly than a wired device, the deployment of a wireless POS device to a market must be approved by the CDSS. For more information, call the CDSS Farmers’ Market Specialist at (916) 654-1396.