As the federal government looks to cut back on the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), economists say the food benefit program sustains agriculture — which is the second largest industry in Upstate New York.
The Double Up Food Bucks Program is making its way through farmers markets in Buffalo and around the country. Under that program you can get, for example, $16 worth of groceries for $8 worth of SNAP benefits.
This month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a pilot program in New York state for online purchases with SNAP EBT payments. Experts say that is a game-changer.
"This could be very, very important, for example, for disabled families," said Chair of Finance and Economy at Buffalo State, Fred Floss.
Jim Bittner, of Bittner Singer Orchards, says SNAP has allowed farmers to maintain revenue in a struggling market.
"People are more apt to buy more stuff, local produce, and more of it hopefully, so it's a win for everybody," Floss said.
Though the program has provided support, Floss says it is in jeopardy. He says President Trump has been trying to cut food stamps.
Trump aims to reduce the SNAP program by more than $200 billion over the next few years. The goal is to encourage able-bodied adults to work and get off government assistance.
To Floss, SNAP is a nutritional and agricultural subsidy program that would have more negative impacts if there was a slump in benefits.
"If you're somebody that's only looking at it today, you might think this is too expensive of a program, but if you take a wider look, I think you'll see the benefits outweigh the costs."