Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has been receiving pandemic aid input from lawmakers and agricultural industry members alike. Various lawmakers have pointed out specific shortfalls of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Several industry groups have also raised concerns about the application deadline. A letter from House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research Chair Stacey E. Plaskett and the Democratic Members of the Subcommittee notes that the specialty crop sector has not received much relief under CFAP.
“As of August 3, 2020, USDA had provided over $6.8 billion in direct payments to domestic farmers and ranchers. Out of that total, only $270 million has been provided to specialty crop producers, representing less than four percent of overall assistance,” the letter states. “The small share of Federal funds flowing to specialty crop producers highlights the critical need for USDA to conduct immediate and targeted outreach to specialty crop stakeholders ahead of CFAP’s August 28, 2020 deadline.”
INDUSTRY MEMBERS WEIGH-IN ON CFAP
The upcoming deadline for pandemic aid has also been a cause for concern for several agricultural groups. A total of 28 industry associations, including California Citrus Mutual, American Farm Bureau Federation, and Western Growers, also sent a letter detailing concerns about the pandemic aid through CFAP. The coalition of industry groups asserts that the most pressing issue is the August 28 deadline. The groups express concern that the current deadline may not provide adequate time for producers to apply. The argument is especially problematic for commodities who recently became eligible for the program.
“To ensure all eligible producers receive CFAP support, the undersigned organizations respectfully request the Department extend the sign-up deadline for CFAP. This will ensure FSA staff has adequate time to process all submitted applications, and farmers have ample opportunities to enroll eligible commodities,” the letter states. “At the same time, we strongly encourage you to increase producer and stakeholder engagement initiatives.”