Farmers may be receiving a second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments sometime after Labor Day, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said during a news conference Wednesday. USDA has about $14 billion available from funds allocated by Congress to the Commodity Credit Corp. starting in July.
A second round of payments would come at a time when agriculture producers continue to experience the fallout from the COVID-19 shutdown this spring.
Perdue told reporters USDA still is taking applications on the first CFAP round of funding. As of Aug. 24, USDA said it had distributed about $9 billion in CFAP payments to more than 500,000 producers.
On April 17, USDA announced $19 billion in relief from the first round of CFAP. That included $16 billion in direct support based on actual ag losses from falling prices and market supply chain disruptions from the COVID-19 economic shutdown and $3 billion for USDA food purchases.
At the end of last week, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture Chairman Rep. Colin Peterson, D-Minn., in a letter to Perdue, questioned the data used by USDA to determine CFAP eligibility.
In particular, producers were eligible for payments based on a 5% national price decline from Jan. 15 to April 15.
“Significant agricultural market disruptions began after that declaration, when many restaurants, schools and other food service outlets shut down or dramatically reduced service,” Peterson said.
“Some would argue that the full agricultural market impacts of the closure of schools, restaurants, catering, and agricultural processing facilities due to the COVID-19 public health crisis were not fully realized during the CFAP-covered period, with losses for many commodities extending well into the second and third quarters of this year.”
Peterson said “hundreds” of commodities were declared ineligible based on insufficient data and USDA did not provide specific information to some producers for denying their applications.
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On Aug. 11, USDA announced the expansion of the program to cover additional commodities, as well as an extension of the deadline to file for assistance to Sept. 11.
In June, the American Farm Bureau Federation asked Congress to boost funding relief for farmers, including boosting CCC funding to $68 billion as well as lifting payment limit caps. The CFAP program only covers ag losses to April 15.
Though Farm Bureau asked for the CFAP to cover losses to the biofuels industry, ethanol and biodiesel plants were left out of the first round of funding.
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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