Yesterday, USDA announced its plans to establish new programs and bolster existing programs bringing financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and producers who experienced COVID-19 market disruptions. The new initiative, the Pandemic Assistance for Producers, will reach a broader set of producers than in previous COVID-19 aid programs.

The agency is dedicating $6 billion toward new or modified programs using funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which passed in December of 2020. USDA anticipates this funding includes but is not limited to: personal protective equipment, compensation to offset the pandemic’s impact on biofuels, specialty crops and farmers forced to euthanize animals due to supply chain issues.  

The USDA is also adding $500 million of new funding to existing programs including the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach program, Local Agriculture Marketing Program, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and Agriculture Research Service and several others.

The final part of the announcement explained that the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will be refined to better address the needs of producers. The Consolidated Appropriations Act from December 2020 requires FSA to make certain payments to producers according to a mandated formula. USDA is now expediting these provisions. This will include:

  1. Increase in CFAP 1 payment rates for cattle. USDA estimates additional payments of more than $1.1 billion to more than 410,000 producers. Eligible producers do not need to submit a new application, since payments are based on previously approved CFAP 1 applications. However, only those producers who submitted an application under CFAP 1 are eligible for the increased payment.
  2. Additional CFAP 2 assistance of $20 per acre will be paid to producers of eligible flat-rate or price-trigger crops. USDA estimates additional payments of more than $4.5 billion to more than 560,000 producers. This includes alfalfa, corn, cotton, hemp, peanuts, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugar beets and wheat, among other crops. FSA will automatically issue payments to eligible price trigger and flat-rate crop producers based on the eligible acres included on their CFAP 2 applications; therefore, eligible producers do not need to submit a new CFAP 2 application.
  3. Processing of eligible payments for CFAP Additional Assistance. USDA will finalize routine decisions and minor formula adjustments on applications and begin processing payments for certain applications filed for this program.
The payments announced today will go out under the existing CFAP rules; however, the administration continues to review future opportunities for pandemic assistance, and will make announcements regarding their plans in the upcoming weeks.
Though you do not need to resubmit a CFAP 2 application if you have already filed one, USDA’s Farm Service Agency will accept new and modified CFAP 2 applications beginning April 5. Click here for more information and to apply. USDA’s announcement can be found here.