AUGUSTA – Maine is moving forward with its plan to require new welfare benefit cards with photos on them for recipients across the state, despite the federal government’s concerns.

In a letter Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture urged the department to wait until it can fully review its plan before it begins handing out the new electronic benefit transfer cards statewide. The state has been issuing them in Bangor since April.

A Maine Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said Tuesday it has begun the process of switching the rest of recipients over to new cards.

The department says having photos on the cards will cut down on fraud and abuse.

But the federal government warned that Maine can lose federal funding if it violates any rules in the program.