USDA Offers $16 Billion in Direct Assistance to Producers Impacted by COVID-19; Specialty Crops Included

May 29, 2020

By: Jim Frankowiak

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing up to $16 billion in direct payments to provide relief to Americans farmers and ranchers impacted by COVID-19.

As part of a $19 billion Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program (CFAP), the USDA will provide direct support based on losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted.  Also, the USDA will assist eligible producers facing additional adjustment and market costs.

Additionally, the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels and other food service entities to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need.

The USDA, through its Farm Service Agency (FSA) is accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses.

CFAP provides financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent or greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant market costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.

Livestock eligible for CFAP payments include cattle, lambs, yearlings, and hogs.  The total payment will be calculated using the sum of the producer’s number of livestock sold between January 15 and April 15 this year, multiplied by the payment rates per head and the highest inventory number of livestock between April 16 and May 14, 2020, multiplied by the payment rate per head.

For eligible specialty crops, the total payment will be based on the volume of production sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020; the volume of production shipped, but unpaid, and the number o acres for which harvested production did not leave the farm or mature product destroyed or not harvested during that same time period and which have not and will not be sold.  Specialty crops include, but are not limited to, almonds, beans, broccoli, sweet corn, lemons, iceberg lettuce, spinach, squash, strawberries, and tomatoes.  A full list of eligible crops is available at farmers.gov/cfap.  Additional crops may be deemed eligible at a later date.

There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined.  Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, or limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits where members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation.  Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap.  Producers of all eligible commodities are to apply through their local FSA offices.  Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020.

To ensure the availability of funding throughout the application period, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of their application.  The balance, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date as funds remain available.

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