The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) are being suspended. Supplemental CFAP payments of approximately $2.3 billion are being frozen while local Farm Service Agency offices continue accepting applications. The stalled CFAP payments are part of a larger regulatory freeze initiated by President Joe Biden during his first week in office.
A notice on USDA’s main CFAP information page stated that “In accordance with the White House memo, Regulatory Freeze Pending Review, USDA has suspended the processing and payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program – Additional Assistance and has halted implementation until further notice.”
USDA had previously announced additional assistance was going to be offered through an expansion of CFAP on January 15. The expansion includes broader eligibility for the earlier iterations of CFAP, which was to include more producers who had previously been excluded from the program. USDA indicates that work will continue in the coming days to review the program.
“USDA and the Biden Administration intend to take additional steps to bring relief and support to all parts of food and agriculture during the coronavirus pandemic, including by ensuring producers have access to the capital, risk management tools, disaster assistance, and other federal resources,” the notice states.
The supplemental CFAP payments were to build upon the $23.6 billion in assistance provided through CFAP 1 and CFAP 2. Eligible producers will still have until February 26 to submit an application for assistance through CFAP. Payments will be updated automatically for certain producers once payments resume.
There has also been no indication as to what if any changes will be made to the program. No timeline has been established for when the review of the supplemental CFAP payments will be completed. The Biden Administration is undertaking a large-scale review of many of the actions of the previous administration.