The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has unveiled the Pandemic Assistance for Producers program to further support farmers and ranchers. After a review of previous relief programs, USDA identified areas that required improvements to provide more comprehensive assistance to agriculture. At least $12 billion will be directed towards supporting areas of agriculture that have missed out on other relief programs.
“The pandemic affected all of agriculture, but many farmers did not benefit from previous rounds of pandemic-related assistance. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to helping as many producers as possible, as equitably as possible,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “Our new USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative will help get financial assistance to a broader set of producers, including to socially disadvantaged communities, small and medium sized producers, and farmers and producers of less traditional crops.”
The Pandemic Assistance for Producers program consists of four main areas of focus. Part one includes investing at least $6 billion to expand existing programs and develop new ones to assist more producers. The goal is to reach more farmers and ranchers who may not have been eligible for assistance under previous relief efforts. USDA will also be investing approximately $500 million through part two of the new initiative. Expedited assistance will be extended through a variety of programs, primarily by April 30.
Part three of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers program involves expediting payments under the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Payment rates and eligibility for CFAP 1, CFAP 2, and CFAP AA have been adjusted to provide more support for producers. Part four involves reopening the sign-up period for CFAP 2 beginning on April 5. The application window will remain open for 60 days. USDA’s Farm Service Agency is committing at least $2.5 million to outreach efforts. The primary goal is to engage with disadvantaged communities about the opportunities available through the latest relief effort.