Zimmerli: The Scoop on Minnesota Farmers Market Nutrition Program

The Farmers Market Nutrition Program allows participants to purchase locally grown produce from authorized farmers markets and participating vendors from June 15 through October 31.

Farmers MUST register with the Dept. of Agriculture and receive authorization to accept FMNP checks. To learn more about how to become authorized check out the MDAs website.

Participants in this program may only buy fresh fruits, vegetables and cut herbs. No other items may be purchased with this program including (but not limited to) meats, honey, eggs, jams, baked goods and things like carving pumpkins which are not commonly consumed.

The MDA occasionally does compliance checks to make sure farmers are following the guidelines and that approved markets are open during their posted hours.

Once your farm is authorized to take FMNP checks, you must display signage that’s provided for free by the MDA at your market stand. This lets customers know that you are an authorized farmer.

This program is different from SNAP/EBT and different rules apply to SNAP/EBT.

I can say from my own experience at the Mankato Farmers Market that participation in this program is definitely worth it. Not only are you accessing a new customer base but you are also providing fresh nutritious produce to Women, Infants and Children (commonly referred to as WIC) and low-income seniors. Signing up is pretty easy and once you get through the initial training you can easily renew for subsequent years with minimal work.