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USDA introduces financial aid for farmers

USDA introduces financial aid for farmers

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will provide direct payments to farmers and ranchers who have suffered economic losses due to COVID-19

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is rolling out a program to provide direct relief to farmers who have been financially impacted during the 2020 marketing year by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will be available to producers who have suffered an eligible loss, USDA officials said in a May 14 webinar.

“The program will provide direct support, based on lost revenue for producers, where prices and market supply chains have been impacted,” said Sonia Jimenez. She’s the deputy administrator of Agriculture Marketing Service’s speciality crops program. “It also assists producers with additional adjustments in marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply caused by COVID-19.”

USDA developed the program by evaluating “commodity specific losses occurring during the Jan. 2020 to Apr. 2020 timeframe for immediate assistance. In addition, to the extent possible, we evaluated near-term adjustment costs and supply disruptions over the next few months for sectors where prices have declined significantly, for additional assistance,” Jimenez said.

“The program is available to producers regardless of size and market outlet, if they suffer an eligible loss,” she added. “We know that the disruption to markets and demand is significant, and these payments will only cover a portion of the impact on farmers and ranchers.”

Producers of crops, livestock, dairy and specialty crops can apply for CFAP. USDA will provide more eligibility details soon.

“USDA will soon begin taking applications for CFAP. Once sign-up begins, you should call the Farm Service Agency (FSA) at your local USDA service center,” said Bill Beam, FSA’s deputy administrator for farm programs.

Offices are open by phone appointment only, but FSA officers are ready to help farmers walk through the application process. To determine eligibility, FSA agents will need to collect personal, business, and tax information.

“Our staff will work with you to complete,” the necessary forms and keep your information secure, Beam said. “If you are an existing customer, this information is likely on file at your local service centre … while the application process is not started, you can begin completing eligibility forms, gathering and understanding your farm’s recent sales and inventory.”

“Once the application period opens, your local FSA staff will work with you to apply for the program. They are ready to help you. You need to call the office and schedule an appointment,” Jimenez added.

Participation in the Small Business Administrations Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan program does not impact eligibility for CFAP.

Farmers can find more information, look up local FSA office contact information, and access necessary forms at farmers.gov/cfap.

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