CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Local farmers are signing up for a program that allows them to accept SNAP payments in exchange for local produce, just in time for the start of farmer's market season.
The USDA says it's going to benefit consumers and the local economy.
Helen Legare-Floyd, owner of Legare Farms on Johns Island, is looking forward to selling their fresh produce to SNAP recipients.
"I think its wonderful that lower income people can buy fresh from the farm, everybody should have that opportunity," said Legare-Floyd.
Legare-Floyd said she's already seen a demand for it.
"Several of our neighbors have come to the farm and wanted to use a snap the EBT card so yes I've had a lot of people asking about it," said Legare-Floyd.
SNAP isn't the only form of payment that this program includes, said Emily Joyce, marketing specialist for South Carolina Department of Agriculture.
The farmers can also now accept Women, Infant and Children vouchers, known as WIC, and Senior vouchers.
"I think it would be very good, it would be helpful for seniors," said Helen Pinckney, senior citizen.
The farmers are given an iPhone or iPad, complete with data, card reader and a receipt printer. The farmers are charged a 15- cent fee for each SNAP transaction.
Farmers can use them at farmers markets or roadside stands.
"Mainly, we're planning to use it at our little market on the farm," said Legare-Floyd.
"I think its a really good idea because it helps people get more fresher foods and it helps the local community," Leann Boatwright, Charleston resident.
Legare-Floyd hopes it will widen their customer base and encourage more Lowcountry residents to shop local and fresh.
"I think its going to be great for everybody, for us the farmer and the consumer," said Legare-Floyd.
Joyce said that nearly 20 Lowcountry farmers enrolled in the event Wednesday. The authorization process takes about a week. So, many of these farmers will be ready to accept SNAP payments by the first Farmer's Market in Downtown Charleston in April.
In total, Joyce said there are between 40 and 50 farmers who will be accepting SNAP payments statewide.