WASHINGTON, D.C. — USDA on Wednesday announced it has a new plan — called Pandemic Assistance for Producers — to provide farmers with financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.
USDA had paused its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, during the transfer of power between administrations.
The agency says it has completed a review of CFAP, identified gaps and issued the new plan. Previously existing programs, including CFAP, will now fall under the new initiative.
“Our new USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative will help get financial assistance to a broader set of producers, including to socially disadvantaged communities, small and medium-sized producers, and farmers and producers of less traditional crops,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Wednesday.
The new plan has four parts: $6 billion in new assistance programs, $500 million for existing programs, additional payments under CFAP and $2.5 million to help disadvantaged farmers.
Starting this spring, USDA will dedicate at least $6 billion for the following:
• Dairy farmers through the Dairy Donation Program.
• Euthanized livestock and poultry.
• Specialty crops, beginning farmers and local, urban and organic farms.
• Costs for organic certification and conservation.
• Other expansion and corrections to CFAP.
• Timber harvesting and hauling.
• Personal Protective Equipment.
• Improving food supply chain resilience.
• Supporting food donation and distribution.
• Reducing food waste.
USDA will also invest $500 million in several existing programs, including:
• $100 million to Specialty Crop Block Grants.
• $75 million for the Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach program and the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement to help minority, veteran and beginning farmers.
• $100 million to the Local Agricultural Marketing Program.
• $75 million for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable purchasing by low-income consumers.
• $20 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for disease prevention.
• $20 million for the Agricultural Research Service to work with Texas A&M University on health and agriculture initiatives.
• $28 million in grants to state departments of agriculture.
• $80 million to domestic users of upland and extra-long staple cotton.
Increased CFAP payments
USDA will help the Farm Service Agency make payments according to mandated formulas under CFAP 1, 2 and AA. Several farm sectors can expect top-up payments. Changes include:
• An increase in CFAP 1 payment rates for cattle starting April 1.
• Additional payments for swine producers and contract growers.
• Additional CFAP assistance of $20 per acre for producers of eligible crops including alfalfa, corn, cotton, hemp, peanuts, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugar beets and wheat.
• Assistance with applications related to pullets and turfgrass sod, row crops, insurance indemnities and natural disasters.
Re-open CFAP 2
USDA will reopen CFAP 2 for at least 60 days starting on April 5. Farmers are encouraged to apply for aid. The agency has committed at least $2.5 million to outreach efforts to make sure socially disadvantaged farmers are aware of the application process.
Information on USDA’s new aid plan can be found on farmers.gov/cfap.