The President of UBA describes the poorest as a “machete” cut to food coupons that affect thousands of merchants.


By Miguel Cruz Tejada

NEW YORK._ The president of the organization Bodegas Unidas de América (UBA) and social activist, Radhamés Rodríguez, described as a “machete blow” the cut made by the United States Government to the food stamps of the Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) that affects 36 million poor people and thousands of grocers. Thousands of Dominicans are also affected by the measure.

Rodríguez said that the winemakers benefit from more than 60% of the immediate income they receive through the cards but that after the cut of 95 dollars in the first phase and which went into effect yesterday, the lack of that profit will drastically impact not only Bodegas, but also grocery stores, convenience stores, and other establishments licensed to accept SNAP.
“Brutally, that is a machete blow to the wineries and small businesses,” Rodríguez said.


He explained that wineries have been holding out lately on coupons. “I have a store that sells around $4,500 a day and sometimes I don’t have the means to pay the employees, I have to find money because everything is with coupons.”
He revealed that the amounts that stores receive depend on the merchandise that customers buy. “In some of the businesses we stay afloat through the EBT card, which is the one with which the beneficiaries buy food.”
He pointed out that a coupon equals one dollar in cash for the wineries.
“Every time a coupon license is taken from us, most businesses go bankrupt because the money goes to the bank all at once,” Rodríguez said.
He reported that in New York alone, approximately 1.6 million beneficiaries are impacted by the cut, affecting thousands of Dominicans.
“That is going to greatly affect the economy of the businesses that we are going to suffer a lot. I think that instead of removing it, they should increase it and allow the SNAP beneficiary to buy hot food because the regulation only allows them to buy cold food,” Rodríguez said.
He complained that neither the governor nor the mayor had a plan B, knowing the cut was coming.
“Any time a business is affected by reduced revenue, there is a ripple effect of laying off employees, which in turn affects their families, reduces operating expenses and other cutbacks to the business.” explains Rodriguez.
“It is a very difficult situation that elected officials, councilors, senators and state assemblies have to know when to make cuts, change laws, because sometimes they only think of a small group, without knowing how many are affected by measures like this, which leads to companies going bankrupt and closing.
He cited the case of one of the members of the UBA who invested more than 600,000 dollars in his winery and is likely to lose it because his coupon license was canceled.
“He has a loss in his sales of more than 30% and he cannot cover the expenses”, added the president of the UBA.
He explained that the license of the merchants is suspended when they commit infractions sanctioned by the Government.
“Many times there are winemakers who may not be the best and make mistakes, but the agency that issues the permit gives you the license today and wants to take it away tomorrow,” he added.
“They know the informality that exists in the wineries when people go to buy. What they do is they send out an undercover inspector who goes through ten items that can be bought with the coupons, they put in something that doesn’t look much like any other product. that is bought with the EBT,” said Rodríguez.
“Since winemakers have to process purchases quickly, any employee can make the mistake and that is already an infraction that justifies canceling the license for six months, a year, sometimes indefinitely and fines for that situation,” he said.
He said the ripple effect of the coupon reduction affects recipients, businesses, employees, and their families.


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