The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the new Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to provide $16 billion in aid to farmers who suffered economic losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, making it the largest single payment in history to our nation’s farmers. Through August 28, 2020, farmers that meet eligibility requirements may apply. Funds will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis, so if you do, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible. The following summary is based on information provided by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Read more about required documentation, expected payouts, farmer eligibility requirements, and what to prepare before applying, click here.
Specialty Crops. Producers who grow fruits, vegetables, and nuts may be eligible for CFAP if they had any crops that meet the following conditions:
- Produce grown this year that suffered at least a five percent price decline
- Produce shipped but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channel (this applies to farmers who have met contractual obligations in delivering a crop to a buyer, but have not been paid)
- Crops that were not able to be sold due to loss of marketing channel and were either unharvested (i.e. plowed under) or weren’t shipped.
- Eligible Specialty Crops:
- Fruit: apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, 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
- Contract growers who do not own livestock but whose contract allows them to have risk in the livestock are also eligible for CFAP payments.
- Privately owned aquaculture businesses growing freshwater and saltwater products in controlled environments, including raceways, ponds, tanks, and recirculating systems, extending to all farmed shrimp and salmonids (trout and salmon) are also eligible.
- Click here for a complete list of all fruits, vegetables, and nuts eligible for CFAP relief.
Non-specialty Crops. Most row crop farmers are eligible for CFAP payments if they can demonstrate they suffered at least a 5 percent price loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes barley, corn, soybeans, cotton, oats, soybeans, and wheat. Click here for a complete list of all row crops eligible for CFAP relief.
Wool. Producers are eligible to receive CFAP payments if they can demonstrate they have suffered at least a five percent price decline because of the pandemic.
Livestock: Cattle, hog, and sheep (lambs and yearlings only) producers are eligible to receive CFAP payments if they can demonstrate they have suffered at least a five percent price decline as a result of the pandemic and face additional costs in marketing their livestock due to unexpected surplus and disrupted markets. However, livestock producers who raise animals under contract are only eligible if their contract allows for the producer to share in the production risk. Click here for more information on livestock eligibility and payments.
Dairy: All dairy producers who had any production this year are eligible for CFAP, including those who were forced to dump milk because of disrupted supply chains. However, the prices that USDA will use to calculate payments will be based on conventional dairy prices and does not reflect any organic or local price premiums.
- A single payment will be made based on a producer’s certification of milk production for the first quarter of calendar year 2020 multiplied by $4.71 per hundred weight. The second part of the payment is based a national adjustment to each producer’s production in the first quarter multiplied by $1.47 per hundred weight.
- For more information on dairy payments, click here.
Notable Omissions: Poultry and eggs, as well as hemp and winter wheat. For a list of ineligible commodities, click here.
Is CFAP Right for You?
Given the documentation requirements, commodity pricing structure, and other limitations outlined by NSAC, we encourage all farmers to first assess whether this program is a fit before applying.
Payouts are based on the USDA's valuation of losses. Farmers must show production records that highlight volume rather than funds lost. While the documentation threshold is low and the application is short, it may take some time for producers to compile the necessary records required for the calculation and completion. This is especially true for diversified operations and those who sell into marketing channels that command a price premium.
Here are some considerations:
- Did you experience a loss in sales as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? If yes, do you have documentation that can prove at least a 5 percent price loss in the first quarter this year? Are you able to maintain this documentation securely over the next three years?
- Do you grow a variety of crops and/or livestock? If yes, you will be required to enter production and sales information for each eligible crop and livestock separately, and provide (and maintain) documentation to verify your claims.
- Do you sell the majority of your products through direct marketing channels (i.e. farmers markets, restaurants, CSAs)? Do you produce any value-added products (i.e. organic, grassfed, pastured)? If yes to either of these questions, you will likely only be eligible to receive compensation for a portion of your actual losses as CFAP payments are based on conventional (wholesale) commodity prices.
Resources for Understanding CFAP:
- National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) Blog: What Farmers Need to Know About the USDA COVID-19 Aid
- For free legal services and support on Farmer's Local Action Group (FLAG) national toll-free hotline at 877-860-4349
- Paul Goeringer, Agricultural Law Specialist, University of Maryland Extension Agricultural Law Specialist