USDA to provide additional COVID relief payments

The USDA is making available another $14 billion to eligible farmers and ranchers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, and for the first time, rice, peanuts and soft red winter wheat are included.

The inclusion of rice is a key step for Arkansas, a state that produces about half of the nation’s output of the grain.

“This second round of CFAP expands the list of eligible commodities,” said Scott Stiles, extension economist with the University of Arkansas. “That's a plus for one of Arkansas' major crops: rice.”

Stiles said that under the CFAP payment mechanisms, rice and peanuts would fall under the "Flat-Rate Crops" category and qualify for a $15 per acre payment.

“Assuming we have 1.4 million acres of rice this year and just over 37,000 acres of peanuts, the addition of those crops to the CFAP program equates to roughly $22 million in additional payments to producers,” he said.

“With many rice producers in the state dealing with added harvesting costs following Hurricane Laura, the addition of rice to the eligible commodity list is welcome,” Stiles said. Stiles says the payments are subject to limitations.

“All classes of wheat will be eligible for CFAP making soft red winter wheat eligible,” Stiles said. “Payments for cotton, wheat, corn, sorghum and soybeans are calculated using a ‘Price Trigger’ formula that incorporates a number of variables.”

Under the first round of CFAP, Arkansas farmers and ranchers were approved for more than $136 million in payments through Sept. 13. USDA said the awards were made for 18,163 applications submitted from Arkansas.

Signup for the program begins Sept. 21 and runs through Dec. 11.

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