USDA COVID-19 Food Assistance Program Resources

USDA COVID-19 Food Assistance Program Resources

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

Direct Payments

USDA announced a date certain that farmers and ranchers can begin signing up for direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP. Producers who have suffered losses may begin applying for payments through their local FSA service center on Tuesday, May 26. Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020. Please be aware that you must contact your FSA office by phone first to set up a phone appointment. Producers who have questions regarding CFAP application process may also call 1-877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee.

This information is a long-time coming, as farmers and ranchers have been waiting for details of how USDA would distribute the $16 billion authorized through the CARES Act. This money is intended to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on agricultural producers.

In its press release, USDA outlined the details of how these payments will be calculated for eligible commodities:

Non-Specialty Crops and Wool

Non-specialty crops eligible for CFAP payments include malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat. Wool is also eligible. Producers will be paid based on inventory subject to price risk held as of January 15, 2020. A payment will be made based 50 percent of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory as of January 15, 2020, whichever is smaller, multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates.


Livestock eligible for CFAP include cattle, lambs, yearlings and hogs. The total payment will be calculated using the sum of the producer’s number of livestock sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020, multiplied by the payment rates per head, and the highest inventory number of livestock between April 16 and May 14, 2020, multiplied by the payment rate per head.


For dairy, the total payment will be calculated based on a producer’s certification of milk production for the first quarter of calendar year 2020 multiplied by a national price decline during the same quarter. The second part of the payment is based a national adjustment to each producer’s production in the first quarter.

Specialty Crops

For eligible specialty crops, the total payment will be based on the volume of production sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020; the volume of production shipped, but unpaid; and the number of acres for which harvested production did not leave the farm or mature product destroyed or not harvested during that same time period, and which have not and will not be sold. Specialty crops include, but are not limited to, almonds, beans, broccoli, sweet corn, lemons, iceberg lettuce, spinach, squash, strawberries and tomatoes. A full list of eligible crops can be found on Additional crops may be deemed eligible at a later date.

Payments will be prorated at the time of distribution. Initially, producers will receive 80 percent of their total payment, with the additional 20 percent disbursed at an undisclosed later time. Additionally, the cap of $150,000 per commodity was lifted, but the $250,000 per entity cap remains in place.

The full text of the USDA’s press release can be found here. For more information about CFAP, visit

For commodities is not covered under CFAP USDA has said it will consider adding them if credible evidence reading price declines is submitted to the agency. The deadline for submitting information to USDA was June 22, 2020. 

USDA Adds Digital Options for Farmers and Ranchers to Apply for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program - USDA can now accept CFAP applications through an online portal known as eAuthentication. According to USDA, the portal allows producers with secure login credentials to certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign application and submit directly to their local USDA Service Center. Producers can learn more about eAuthentication accounts and begin the enrollment process at At this time, the digital application is only available to sole proprietors or single-members business entities. 

For additional information regarding digital signatures and other options for submitting CFAP applications click here

Additional CFAP Information:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has posted a recording of the webinar for farmers, ranchers and other producers interested in applying for direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) held Thursday, May 14, at 1 p.m. ET. Click here to view the webinar.

Commodity Purchase and Distribution

Details. In addition to direct relief payments, USDA will also partner with regional and local food distributors (501(c)(3) non-profits) to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and meat. USDA is expected to spend about $100 million per month in each of the three categories, for a total of $3 billion in total purchases. This program is meant to take advantage of existing relationships between producers, processors, distributors, and non-profits to help get excess product into the hands of those who need it. In contrast to traditional USDA buy-up programs, where the Department purchases entire truck loads of product, this is meant to be a "truck to trunk" program that creates ready-to-use combination boxes of fresh produce, dairy, and meat that consumers can use immediately. 

Eligibility. The food distribution program is a federal procurement program, meaning it is open to anyone who completes the Request for Proposal (RFP) and meets the contract standards to USDA's satisfaction. All products distributed through the program must be 100 percent US grown, processed, and distributed. It is also open only to fresh produce, dairy including fluid milk, natural and processed cheeses, fresh and some processed meats. 

Timing & Sign Up. The RFP is expected to open in the next few weeks, and USDA anticipates approving the first contracts within weeks of the first proposal submissions. Payment for the products will occur only after they've been delivered to the approved non-profit food distributor. 

 Other Links and Information

USDA Press Release: Click here

National Association of FSA County Office Employees Press Release: Click here

American Farm Bureau Information: Click here

Find Your County FSA Office: Click here