To provide immediate financial assistance to farmers impacted by COVID-19, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act provided the Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue with an immediate $9.5 billion and the Commodity Credit Corporation with a $14 billion replenishment. Combining existing CCC funding of $6.5 billion with the $9.5 billion appropriated, Perdue created a $16 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that will provide direct payments to farmers and ranchers to partially offset COVID-19 related losses for livestock and specialty and nonspecialty crops. After USDA unveiled the program, the American Farm Bureau Federation dug in to get the details of these payments.
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a 5% or greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and face additional significant market costs.
Among eligible commodities:
- Non-specialty Crops: malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat and hard red spring wheat
- Livestock: cattle, hogs and sheep (lambs and yearlings only)
- Specialty Crops
- Fruits: apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelons
- Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, dry onions, green onions, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, taro
- Nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts
- Other: beans, mushrooms
Changes announced July 9:
Adding the following commodities:
- Alfalfa sprouts, anise, arugula, basil, bean sprouts, beets, blackberries, Brussels sprouts, celeriac (celery root), chives, cilantro, coconuts, collard greens, dandelion greens, greens (others not listed separately), guava, kale greens, lettuce – including Boston, green leaf, Lolla Rossa, oak leaf green, oak leaf red and red leaf – marjoram, mint, mustard, okra, oregano, parsnips, passion fruit, peas (green), pineapple, pistachios, radicchio, rosemary, sage, savory, sorrel, fresh sugarcane, Swiss chard, thyme and turnip top greens.
- Expanding for seven currently eligible commodities — apples, blueberries, garlic, potatoes, raspberries, tangerines and taro — CARES Act funding for sales losses because USDA found these commodities had a 5% or greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, these commodities were only eligible for marketing adjustments.
- Determining that peaches and rhubarb no longer qualify for payment under the CARES Act sales loss category.
- Correcting payment rates for apples, artichokes, asparagus, blueberries, cantaloupes, cucumbers, garlic, kiwifruit, mushrooms, papaya, peaches, potatoes, raspberries, rhubarb, tangerines and taro.
Changes announced Aug. 11:
Adding the following additional commodities:
- Specialty Crops – aloe leaves, bananas, batatas, bok choy, carambola (star fruit), cherimoya, chervil (french parsley), citron, curry leaves, daikon, dates, dill, donqua (winter melon), dragon fruit (red pitaya), endive, escarole, filberts, frisee, horseradish, kohlrabi, kumquats, leeks, mamey sapote, maple sap (for maple syrup), mesculin mix, microgreens, nectarines, parsley, persimmons, plantains, pomegranates, pummelos, pumpkins, rutabagas, shallots, tangelos, turnips/celeriac, turmeric, upland/winter cress, water cress, yautia/malanga, and yuca/cassava.
- Non-Specialty Crops and Livestock – liquid eggs, frozen eggs and all sheep. Only lambs and yearlings (sheep less than two years old) were previously eligible.
- Aquaculture – catfish, crawfish, largemouth bass and carp sold live as foodfish, hybrid striped bass, red drum, salmon, sturgeon, tilapia, trout, ornamental/tropical fish, and recreational sportfish.
- Nursery Crops and Flowers – nursery crops and cut flowers.
- Seven commodities – onions (green), pistachios, peppermint, spearmint, walnuts and watermelons – are now eligible for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act funding for sales losses. Originally, these commodities were only eligible for payments on marketing adjustments.
- Correcting payment rates for onions (green), pistachios, peppermint, spearmint, walnuts, and watermelons.
Ben Brown, assistant professor of Professional Practice in Agricultural Risk Management at Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Science’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, provides additional background about CFAP, along with information about eligibility requirements, the application process and payment rates that he and his team laid out in a new report.