USDA is now accepting applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program through Aug. 28. As part of applying for the program, you’ll need to contact the Farm Service Agency county office at your local USDA Service Center to schedule an appointment. Find your office and detailed application instructions at farmers.gov/cfap.
The program will provide up to $16B to farmers and ranchers affected by the pandemic, $9.5B of which was appropriated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability (CARES) Act and will compensate farmers for price declines and specialty crops that spoiled due to loss of marketing channels. The other $6.5B, which will cover market disruptions, comes from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC).
Farmers who grow commodities that have experienced a price decline of five percent or more due to COVID-19 and face significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities are eligible to apply. Covered commodities include a variety of grains, wool, cattle, lambs, yearlings, hogs, dairy, almonds and an assortment of fruit and vegetables.
The program eliminates earlier per-commodity payment limits, but maintains overall payment limits. An individual can receive up to $250,000 on all commodities combined, and as many as three members who “actively provide personal labor or personal management” can receive payments, for a total of $750,000 per operation. Those who earn more than $900,000 in adjusted gross income are not eligible, unless three-quarters or more of their income comes from agriculture. To prevent the program from running out of money, producers will only receive 80% of their payment up front; the remaining 20% will be sent later if there’s adequate funding.
Your local FSA staff will work with you to apply for the program, and through forms asking for this type of information:
· Personal, including your Tax Identification Number
· Farming operating structure
· Adjusted Gross Income to ensure eligibility
· Direct deposit to enable payment processing
Please do not send any personal information to USDA without first initiating contact through a phone call.
FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed. If you are an existing customer, this information is likely on file at your local Service Center.
How Should I Prepare?
Before making your FSA appointment, gather and understand your farm’s recent sales and inventory.
How Will USDA Accept Applications?
USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only. Please call your FSA county office to schedule an appointment. Staff are working with agricultural producers by phone and using email, fax, mail and online tools to accept applications. You can find your local office’s contact information at offices.usda.gov.
Also, USDA is hosting webinars to explain the signup process for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) direct assistance payments. The schedule for these events can be found here: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/outreach-and-education/webinars/index