WASHINGTON, D.C. — Socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers may benefit from $2 million in USDA funding. The agency has also reopened signups for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP. 

The new program, part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, aims to establish cooperative agreements between the Farm Service Agency and local partners targeting outreach and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged producers. 

"USDA is committed to making financial assistance available to a broader set of producers, including to socially disadvantaged communities, and we know that we need partners to help make that happen," said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux.

These partnerships aim to increase access and participation in FSA programs and services — including the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP — as well as assist socially disadvantaged producers with applying for other FSA loans, disaster assistance and conservation programs.

Under the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, socially disadvantaged farmers are defined as those who "have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice, because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities."

Nonprofits, tribal groups and governments, and public and tribal colleges are invited to apply. Awards will range from $20,000 to $100,000. Applications are due May 5, and those focused primarily on CFAP access will be be expedited.

"I am excited to see their innovative, results-driven proposals to help us reach our producers, especially those who have not taken full advantage of the available assistance," Ducheneaux said. 

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative on March 24.

The initiative promises to dedicate $6 billion for financial relief to farmers affected by pandemic-related market disruptions, with a greater emphasis on reaching small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers, and timber harvesters.

For more information about the $2 million partnership program or to apply, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/cooperativeagreemeents.

CFAP signup reopens 

The FSA also announced it is reopening the signup period for CFAP assistance, providing aid to producers who faced increased marketing costs due to COVID-19.

Signup for the second round of CFAP payments was initially closed on Dec. 11, 2020, but  reopened for at least 60 days beginning April 5, allowing farmers and ranchers to either apply or make modifications to their applications. 

Eligible commodities include specialty crops, livestock, dairy, row crops, aquaculture, floriculture and nursery products. 

For a detailed list of eligible commodities, payment limitations and structure, visit www.farmers.gov/cfap. Customers seeking one-on-one support with their applications can call 1-877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee. 

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