Farmers and ranchers who are struggling with current market conditions can expect coronavirus assistance payments to come next month as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) that was recently announced. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) $19 billion program will be used for food purchasing and providing direct payments to producers. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told AgNet West that officials will be working to make the funding assistance available as quickly as possible.
“Unfortunately, in government time, the fastest will be the end of May. We’re going to work hard to get it done quicker than that, but it’s probably going to mean the end of May,” Perdue noted. “It’s $16 billion in direct payments to our producers who’ve seen prices crash and $3 billion in the purchasing of these misalignments of supply be it produce, be it milk, or be it meat.”
The bulk of direct coronavirus assistance payments is intended for the livestock industry at $9.6 billion. Another $3.9 billion will be provided to row crop producers, as well as an additional $2.1 billion for specialty crop producers. The remainder of the available $16 billion will be issued for other crops. Of particular interest for many California growers, specialty crops are eligible for both direct payments as well as the purchasing component of the program.
“If they have product that’s ready to go to market and there’s no market for it then we’ll be trying to buy as much as we can through private sector relationships in the food service industry that can help us buy and redistribute that,” Perdue noted. “They would be eligible for direct payments as well for that product they may have produced and harvested and had no market for or the price just crashed on them.”
The payment limit for the program is $125,000 per commodity, with a limit of two commodities totaling $250,000. Qualified producers will need to have experienced at least a five percent decrease in prices between January and April.
Listen to Perdue’s full one-on-one interview with AgNet West’s Danielle Leal.