By Oil Price Information Service
The federal government has moved a step closer to releasing the U.S. Agriculture Department’s final rule that enhances retailer requirements in the federal food stamp program – also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The rule has been sent to the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, according to the OMB website.
The final rule, once released, could differ from the controversial, proposed version of the rule, which was published in the February 17, 2016 Federal Register. Retailers have expressed widespread concern about some of the provisions in the proposed version of the rule.
The proposed version of the rule would prohibit a company from being a SNAP retailer if more than 15% of the retailer’s total food sales are cooked items or items that are heated at the retailer. Some in the truckstop industry, including Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, have told members of Congress that the 15% provision would effectively block the truckstop and travel plaza industry from being SNAP retailers.
Among other provisions in the proposed version of the rule:
- SNAP retailers would be required to stock on a continuous basis at least 168 food items, broken down in various food categories;
- Retailers would be required to carry at least seven varieties of food items in each of four food categories, up from the current minimum of three food varieties in each of four food categories. In addition, the minimum number of categories in which perishable foods would have to be offered would be increased to three categories, up from the current two;
- Difficult-to-categorize foods for which SNAP benefits could be used, such as frozen chicken pot pies, would not be counted in the numerical formula that determines whether the retailer has enough food variety to satisfy program standards.
In response to retailer concerns, Congress is considering legislation that would prevent the Agriculture Department from enforcing some of the provisions that were in the proposed rule.