The impact of COVID-19 was felt by farmers and ranchers throughout the nation. Due to the closure of schools, most restaurants and the limited need for food in hospitals, the supply chain left producers with an excess of grains, animals and dairy, as well as a reduction in commodity prices.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which provides up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Producers can apply for assistance beginning on May 26. Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA office. Applications will be accepted through Aug. 28, 2020.
Non-specialty crops eligible for CFAP payments include malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat and hard red spring wheat. Wool is also eligible.
Cattle, sheep and hog producers, as well as dairy farmers can apply for this assistance.
Some specialty crops are also eligible. These include, but are not limited to, apple, broccoli, sweet corn, garlic, lettuce, onions, spinach, squash, strawberries and tomatoes. A full list of eligible crops can be found on farmers.gov/cfap. Additional crops may be deemed eligible at a later date.
“America’s farming community is facing an unprecedented situation as our nation tackles the coronavirus. President Trump has authorized USDA to ensure our patriotic farmers, ranchers, and producers are supported and we are moving quickly to open applications to get payments out the door and into the pockets of farmers,” Perdue said in a release. “These payments will help keep farmers afloat while market demand returns as our nation reopens and recovers. America’s farmers are resilient and will get through this challenge just like they always do with faith, hard work, and determination.”
In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat and deliver boxes to food pantries.
There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Corporations, limited liability companies or limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits.
USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible.