Lawmakers and industry groups are encouraging the elimination of the payment caps under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The $19 billion program includes $16 billion in direct payments for farmers and ranchers, as well as $3 billion to be used for the purchasing of agricultural products. CFAP has payment restrictions of $125,000 per commodity and a total of $250,000 per applicant for all commodities.
“Those suggested gross income and payment limitation numbers are really farm bill policy that’s meant for commodities, with sort of a Midwest focus, and there’s good reasons for some of those policies we’ve put in place,” California Citrus Mutual President Casey Creamer told AgNet West. “But when you look at the trade context and you look at this, it doesn’t matter what size you are. You’re seeing impacts from small farmers; you’re seeing impacts from big farmers and its really about economic damage and the ability for people to stay in business.”
A group of lawmakers which included 28 members of the U.S. Senate and 126 members of the U.S. House of Representatives issued a letter to President Donald Trump and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for the removal of payment caps from CFAP before the final program details are announced. The letter points out that the payment restrictions would limit the effectiveness of the program, particularly for livestock, dairy and specialty crop producers.
“Growers of crops with high production costs like citrus should be compensated for their actual losses and not be limited by an arbitrary cap. Roughly 80% of lemon growers who have suffered losses due to the foodservice decline would be adversely affected by the unnecessarily low payment limits,” Creamer stated in a press release. “We appreciate the strong bipartisan effort in both the Senate and the House to eliminate the payment limits for the produce industry and other commodities.”