USDA Details Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced the rollout of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers.

Beginning May 26, the Department of Agriculture will be accepting applications from farmers who have suffered losses of five percent or more. The funds come from the $9.5 billion in appropriated funding provided in the CARES Act dedicated to agriculture and $6.5 billion from the Commodity Credit Corporation.

Farmers will receive a combined total from CFAP and the CCC of 95 cents per bushel for soybeans, and 67 cents for corn. The payment rate for cattle is $247 per-head of slaughter cattle, $171 per-head of feeder cattle over 600 lbs, and $45 for hogs under 120lbs. There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity. Producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment will be paid later.

Producers can apply through their local FSA office, and applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020. Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap.

CFAP Welcomed, But More Relief Needed

Agriculture groups welcomed the rollout of CFAP but say farmers will need more relief.

“This assistance is a first step to getting farmers, and our customers, back on solid footing,” said National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall called the program critically important, adding “long-term effects of this pandemic are still rippling through the farm economy.” AFBF points out to farm bankruptcies increasing 23 percent in March 2020 compared to a year earlier.

“This is just one step and much more needs to be done.” Details behind the $16 billion in direct payments were announced at the White House Tuesday. USDA is expected to utilize an additional $14 billion for relief funds to farmers and ranchers later this summer.

NCBA Responds to Trump Comments on Beef Imports

President Trump also suggested that the United States should consider terminating trade deals that bring live cattle into the United States. Most cattle imported into the United States come from Mexico and Canada, thus falling under Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. However, a recent Trump administration decision to allow fresh beef imports from Brazil is something the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association urged the president to reconsider.

The association says there continue to be concerns with foot-and-mouth disease and USDA’s decision to reopen the American market to Brazilian beef. Approximately 12 percent of beef consumed in the U.S. is imported product, but that product must meet the U.S. standards before allowed into the market.