New Round of COVID Assistance for Farmers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) on March 24, 2021. This is part of a larger effort to reach a greater share of farming operations and improve USDA pandemic assistance. FSA has committed at least $2.5 million to establish partnerships and direct outreach efforts intended to improve
outreach for CFAP 2 and will cooperate with grassroots organizations with strong connections to socially disadvantaged communities to ensure they are informed and aware of the application process. CFAP updates include reopening of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2), additional payments for eligible cattle and row crop producers, and the processing of payments for certain applications filed as part of CFAP Additional Assistance.

The $12 billion initiative contains four parts, including $4.5 billion in direct payments to farmers as provided for in the COVID aid package that was passed and signed into law in December 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. These payments are considered additional payments, or top-up payments, to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2
(CFAP 2).

Rice farmers will receive $20 per eligible acre when payments begin next month based on their CFAP 2 application. These payments will automatically be issued to farmers. Since the payment is a top-up for CFAP 2, the amount a producer can receive will be based on the CFAP 2 payment limitation, combining the initial payment received under CFAP 2 and PAP.

Other parts include additional payments under CFAP 1 to cattle producers and USDA will work to correct CFAP payment formulas and other technicalities for other agricultural products and programs. The other three parts of the PAP include additional funding to expand help and assistance to more producers through the creation of new programs or changes to existing programs, including dairy, euthanized livestock and poultry, timber, reducing food waste, and more; additional funding for specialty crops, locally grown, research, textile mills, among other initiatives; and temporarily reopening sign-ups for the CFAP 2 program and $2.5 million for targeted outreach to underserved producers.

“Rice farmers greatly appreciate the assistance they are set to receive from these payments,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. “With planting season under way, input costs continuing to rise, and market uncertainties, these programs will be helpful to so many.”

USDA’s Farm Service Agency will offer multiple options for producers to apply for CFAP 2 when signup opens on April 5, 2021. Farmers who need assistance or have questions about signup should contact their local FSA office.

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