USDA rolls out its Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative

By:Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law Monday, April 12th, 2021
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We’re used to April showers in Ohio, but this year producers can also prepare for a showering of USDA pandemic assistance.  Secretary Vilsack just announced the new “USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative,” which will devote $12 billion to deliver financial assistance and programs for agricultural producers affected by COVID-19 market disruptions.  The USDA aims to spread those programs to a wider set of producers than previous COVID-19 programs.

While many program details and rules are still under development and expected later this spring, several types of CFAP assistance are in motion now.  First, the USDA announced the reopening of round two of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP2) on April 5.  Producers who haven’t yet signed up for CFAP2 may do so for at least the next 60 days at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/apply.   USDA will be distributing $2.5 million in grants to further reach out to socially disadvantaged farmers who have not enrolled in CFAP2.    

Several automatically issued payments are also in the works for eligible producers already enrolled in CFAP1 and 2.  Producers need not submit new applications for these payments, and we’ve heard some producers have already received them.   The payments include:

  • Increased CFAP1 payment rates for cattle.  Cattle producers eligible under CFAP1 will automatically receive payments based on inventory of cattle between April 16, 2020 and May 14, 2020.  Rates per head will be $7 for feeder cattle less than 600 pounds, $25.50 for feeder cattle at 600 pounds or more, $63 for slaughter/fed cattle, $14.75 for slaughter/mature cattle and $17.25 for all other cattle.
  • CFAP2 crop payments.  Additional payments of $20 per acre for producers of eligible flat-rate or price-trigger crops under CFAP2, which includes Ohio crops of alfalfa, corn, hemp, sorghum, soybeans, sugar beets, wheat and other grains, listed at https://www.farmers.gov/pandemic-assistance/cfap.
  • CFAP additional assistance payments.  Formula adjustments and payments for applications filed under the CFAP AA program will include pullets and turfgrass sod, corrections for row-crop producers with non-Actual Production History insurance to use 100% of 2019 ARC-county option benchmark yield in the payment calculation, revisions to sales commodity applications to include insurance indemnities, noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program payments, and Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus payments.

The additional payments for swine producers and contract growers included in the CFAP Additional Assistance are not yet are their way.  These payments are on hold as they will require regulatory revisions, but FSA is accepting applications at https://www.farmers.gov/pandemic-assistance/cfap.

Also in the still-under-development category is an additional $6 billion for new and modified programs from the Consolidated Appropriations Act as well as other unspent COVID-19 funds.  The USDA projects that rules for these programs will also begin this Spring and will include funding for:

  • Dairy Donation Program purchases and other assistance for dairy farmers
  • Euthanized livestock and poultry
  • Biofuels
  • Specialty crops, beginning farmers and local, urban, and organic farms
  • Organic certification costs or to continue or add conservation activities
  • Other possible expansion and corrections to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program such as to support dairy or other livestock producers.
  • Timber harvesting and hauling.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other protective measures for food and farm workers and specialty crops and seafood processors and distributors.
  • Improving the resilience of the food supply chain.
  • Developing infrastructure to support donation and distribution of perishable commodities, including food donation and distribution through farm-to-school, restaurants, or other community organizations.
  • Reducing food waste.

And that’s not all.  Details for allocating an additional $500 million in new funding are also in development.  That funding will be distributed as follows:

  • $100M for Specialty Crop Block Program
  • $100M for Local Agricultural Marketing Program
  • $80M for Domestic Textile Mills Program
  • $75M for Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach Program.
  • $75M for Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program
  • $28M for National Institute of Food and Agriculture
  • $20M for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
  • $20M for Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

The USDA has stated that it will continue to develop program details and regulations through the spring.  We’ll do our best to forecast what's to come, so stay tuned for more information on the Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative.

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