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U.S. senators ask USDA for more assistance for wheat growers

U.S. senators ask USDA for more assistance for wheat growers

Only about 30 percent of 2019 production is covered by the CFAP

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The USDA needs to include more wheat growers in any further COVID-related ag assistance programs, senators say.

A bipartisan letter from 21 senators representing 14 wheat-producing states has asked Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to allocate money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to ensure all wheat producers are eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

“The economic impact of COVID-19 has been experienced and felt by all wheat farmers across the country,” the letter states.

Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are among the senators who signed the Sept. 2 document.

When the USDA unveiled the CFAP in May, it only covered certain classes of wheat.

Of the six classes: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, soft white, hard white and durum, only a pair were included in the program.

CFAP “only covers two (hard red spring and durum) of the six classes of wheat,” Caitlin Eannello, director of communications with the National Association of Wheat Growers, told Farms.com. “These two classes only make up 30 percent of the 2019 wheat production.”

The pandemic has caused wheat prices in all classes to fall.

Between January and August, some prices have fallen almost 20 percent, the senators’ letter said.

From “mid-January to the first full week of August, average weekly futures prices for the September 2020 contract have dropped 18 percent for hard red winter; 12 percent for soft red winter; and 14 percent for hard red spring,” the letter reads. “Wheat farmers have experienced significant economic harm from COVID-19. We request that you use funding provided in the CARES Act to immediately begin providing assistance for COVID-19 losses for all classes of wheat.”

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