U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced new details on May 19 regarding the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). It will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
CFAP provides vital 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 marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.
Beginning May 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses.
“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,” said Secretary Perdue. “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.”
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 of 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. Citrus is covered in the eligible specialty crops, including grapefruit, lemons, oranges and tangerines. A full list of eligible crops can be found on 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.
Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA office. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed. Applications will be accepted from May 26 to Aug. 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 the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date as funds remain available.
USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. 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. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.
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