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USDA expands farmer eligibility for COVID-19 assistance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced March 24 more than $12 billion in relief funding will be distributed to farmers through the Pandemic Assistance for Producers program.

The initiative will provide $6 billion to establish new programming to assist farmers who didn’t qualify for previous rounds of aid through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program or similar programs.

USDA also announced it will resume accepting applications for CFAP 2 payments for at least 60 days beginning April 5. Under existing CFAP regulations, more than $6.5 billion will be issued to cattle farmers and producers of eligible flat-rate crops and price trigger commodities.

USDA estimates the new round of payments will reach over 970,000 farmers. More information about commodity eligibility under CFAP 2 can be found on USDA’s CFAP webpage.

“The pandemic affected all of agriculture, but many farmers did not benefit from previous rounds of pandemic-related assistance,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “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.”

Livestock farmers who were enrolled in CFAP 1, and eligible crop producers who already are enrolled in CFAP 2, do not need to reapply for payments. Each group will receive automatic payments through the PAP program.

Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, noted Virginia cattle farmers with approved CFAP applications will receive supplemental payments beginning April 1.

Local row crop farmers, he said, can expect supplemental payments of $20 per acre sometime in April.

“These additional payments are intended to offset cattle and row crop farmers’ continued revenue losses after the first round of CFAP payments concluded in the fall,” Banks said. “For the other programs receiving improved funding from USDA, the intention is to help aid farmers’ production and delivery of specialty crops like fruits and vegetables.”

For more program details, producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office or visit farmers.gov/pandemic-assistance.