Monday, September 21, 2020

USDA: More Eligible Commodities for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

By on August 11, 2020

(Screen capture of https://www.facebook.com/USDA/

SAN JUAN – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that additional commodities are covered by the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) in response to public comments and data. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the deadline to apply for the program to September 11th, and producers with approved applications will receive their final payment.

“After reviewing over 1,700 responses, even more farmers and ranchers will have the opportunity for assistance to help keep operations afloat during these tough times,” reads the USDA’s press release.

“President Trump is standing with America’s farmers and ranchers to ensure they get through this pandemic and continue to produce enough food and fiber to feed America and the world. That is why he authorized this $16 billion of direct support in the CFAP program and today we are pleased to add additional commodities eligible to receive much needed assistance,” said Perdue. “CFAP is just one of the many ways USDA is helping producers weather the impacts of the pandemic. From deferring payments on loans to adding flexibilities to crop insurance and reporting deadlines, USDA has been leveraging many tools to help producers.”

Background:

USDA collected comments and supporting data for consideration of additional commodities through June 22, 2020. The following additional commodities are now eligible for CFAP:

  • Specialty Crops – aloe leaves, bananas, batatas, bok choy, carambola (star fruit), cherimoya, chervil (french parsley), citron, curry leaves, daikon, dates, dill, donqua (winter melon), dragon fruit (red pitaya), endive, escarole, filberts, frisee, horseradish, kohlrabi, kumquats, leeks, mamey sapote, maple sap (for maple syrup), mesculin mix, microgreens, nectarines, parsley, persimmons, plantains, pomegranates, pummelos, pumpkins, rutabagas, shallots, tangelos, turnips/celeriac, turmeric, upland/winter cress, water cress, yautia/malanga, and yuca/cassava.
  • Non-Specialty Crops and Livestock – liquid eggs, frozen eggs and all sheep. Only lambs and yearlings (sheep less than two years old) were previously eligible.
  • Aquaculture – catfish, crawfish, largemouth bass and carp sold live as foodfish, hybrid striped bass, red drum, salmon, sturgeon, tilapia, trout, ornamental/tropical fish, and recreational sportfish.
  • Nursery Crops and Flowers – nursery crops and cut flowers.

Other changes to CFAP include:

  • Seven commodities – onions (green), pistachios, peppermint, spearmint, walnuts and watermelons – are now eligible for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act funding for sales losses. Originally, these commodities were only eligible for payments on marketing adjustments.
  • Correcting payment rates for onions (green), pistachios, peppermint, spearmint, walnuts, and watermelons.

Additional details can be found in the Federal Register in the Notice of Funding Availability (PDF, 248 KB) and Final Rule Correction (PDF, 232 KB) and at www.farmers.gov/cfap.

Producers Who Have Applied:

To ensure availability of funding, producers with approved applications initially received 80 percent of their payments. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will automatically issue the remaining 20 percent of the calculated payment to eligible producers. Going forward, producers who apply for CFAP will receive 100 percent of their total payment, not to exceed the payment limit, when their applications are approved.

Applying for CFAP:

Producers, especially those who have not worked with FSA previously, are recommended to call 877-508-8364 to begin the application process. An FSA staff member can help producers start their application during the phone call.

On farmers.gov/cfap, producers can:

  • Download the AD-3114 application form and manually complete the form to submit to their local USDA Service Center by mail, electronically or by hand delivery to their local office or office drop box.
  • Complete the application form using the CFAP Application Generator and Payment Calculator. This Excel workbook allows customers to input information specific to their operation to determine estimated payments and populate the application form, which can be printed, then signed and submitted to their local USDA Service Center.
  • If producers have login credentials known as eAuthentication, they can use the online CFAP Application Portal to certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications and submit directly to the local USDA Service Center.

All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from farmers.gov/cfap. For existing FSA customers, these documents are likely already on file.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment.

“Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in the office, by phone and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus,” the release added.

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