On May 19, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released information on a food assistance program for agricultural producers. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers who have been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The program specifically targets producers of agricultural products who suffered a five percent or greater price decline or losses due to market supply chain disruptions as a result of COVID-19.
Agricultural producers are facing not only declining prices, but increased marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production and disruptions to shipping patterns, and the orderly marketing of commodities.
Detailed information can be found at farmers.gov/cfap.
Commodities are divided in to five groups:
- non-specialty crops
- specialty crops
Specialty crops include:
- Fruits: apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, tomatoes, watermelons
- Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, dry onions, green onions, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, taro
- Nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts
- Other: beans, mushrooms
Information will be collected to determine if other agricultural products may qualify for CFAP payment. While there may be additional clarifications made, the current information provides a starting point for applying for assistance.
USDA will begin accepting applications on Tuesday, May 26 and continue through August 28, 2020. FSA offices will be handling an increased volume of applications and phone calls, so your patience will be appreciated. USDA Service Centers are open by scheduling an appointment by phone only. Applications will be submitted by email, scanning, or faxing. Contact the local FSA office before sending applications. There are several preparations producers can make to make this process easier. Records of recent farm sales and inventories of agricultural products will be needed.
Information required includes, but is not limited to:
- name and address
- personal information including Tax ID number
- farm operating structure
- adjusted gross income
- direct deposit information
A list of necessary forms is available by visiting farmers.gov/cfap.
Once sign up begins, an Adobe PDF application that can be printed or downloaded will be available for use. A CFAP payment calculator as an Excel spreadsheet will also be available to make payment calculations.
In order to ensure the availability of funding throughout the application period, producers will receive 80 percent of the maximum total payment for their operation upon approval of the application. The remaining payment will be paid later if funds are still available.
Payments will be drawn from two possible funding sources. The first source is the $9.5 billion of appropriated funding through the CARES Act. This funding compensates farmers for losses due to price declines that occurred between mid-January 2020 and mid-April 2020. It also includes payments for specialty crops for product that was shipped and spoiled or unpaid product.
The second funding source uses the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act to compensate producers for $6.5 billion in losses due to on-going market disruptions.