USDA late Tuesday released long-awaited details about which farm commodities will be eligible for federal checks under its $16 billion COVID-19 direct relief program, who won’t receive aid and how payments will be calculated.
The package, called the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, dubbed CFAP for short, is part of the $2 trillion Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Congress passed in March.
CFAP will provide direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to the pandemic.
The application period will start May 26.
CFAP assists producers who have suffered a 5% or greater price decline from January to April 2020 due to COVID-19 disruptions. Eligible commodities include:
• Non-specialty Crops: malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat.
• Livestock: Cattle, hogs, and sheep (lambs and yearlings only).
• Fruits: Apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, tomatoes, watermelons.
• Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, dry onions, green onions, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, taro.
• Nuts: Almonds, pecans, walnuts.
• Other: Beans, mushrooms.
What didn’t make the cut?
Ineligible commodities include sheep more than two years old, eggs/layers, soft red winter wheat, hard red winter wheat, white wheat, rice, flax, rye, peanuts, feed barley, Extra Long Staple cotton, alfalfa, forage crops, hemp and tobacco.
According to a USDA statement, the agency will consider the eligibility of additional crops, except hemp and tobacco, which will be excluded regardless.
For example, USDA encourages producers of nursery products, aquaculture products and cut flowers who believe they’ve suffered a 5% or greater price decline to submit comments.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate losses and marketing costs. They must have an average adjusted gross income of less than $900,000 unless 75% or more of their adjusted gross income comes from farming, ranching or forestry. Applicants must also meet basic legal requirements outlined at: https://www.farmers.gov/cfap
USDA limits payments to $250,000 per farmer for three or fewer farmers/shareholders, meaning an entity may get up to $750,000.
Because funds are limited, the USDA will send producers 80% of their payment immediately after their application is approved and will pay the remaining 20% later if the funds haven’t been depleted.
What to prepare
When CFAP applications open May 26, Farm Service Agency at local branches across the U.S. will ask farmers for contact and personal information, farm operating structure, adjusted gross income and direct deposit information.
Michael Nepveux, economist at the American Farm Bureau, said agribusinesses should keep detailed records of sales and inventory.
How to apply
USDA Service Centers are open by phone appointment only. Once the application period opens, USDA encourages farmers to call their local FSA county office to schedule an appointment.