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A bill to double the purchasing power of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at farmers markets passed an initial vote in the Senate Wednesday and faces a final vote before heading to the governor’s desk. Consumers shopping at farmers markets or farm share programs can get an additional $20 to double their purchasing power for fresh fruits and vegetables. The program would be funded with $45,000 in matching dollars from the state in the first year of the budget and $50,000 in the second year.

Wednesday during a Senate Banking Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing Senator Jon Tester highlighted the pressures facing Montana farmers and ranchers from market consolidation and unfair competition and asked Stacy Mitchell Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance what the federal government should be doing about it. She suggested antitrust laws should be resurrected.

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