The American Farm Bureau Federation is asking USDA to extend the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). In January, an additional $13 billion in assistance was made available to help farmers and ranchers who are suffering losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current deadline is this Friday, February 26, but recent severe weather and the suspension of CFAP payments led to challenges and confusion surrounding the application process.
In a letter sent Wednesday to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “The recent Regulatory Freeze Pending Review on all new and pending executive actions, though common during a change in Administration, has created confusion for farmers and ranchers with respect to eligibility and the application process for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program – Additional Assistance. Although Farm Service Agency offices continued to accept applications during the regulatory freeze, some farmers may have interpreted the implementation suspension to mean that the program was being modified or potentially terminated.”
The letter also notes severe weather, which impacted travel conditions and created broadband disruptions, may have also impacted farmers’ ability to complete the application process. AFBF is asking USDA to extend the deadline to apply for assistance by at least 30 days after the regulatory review is completed.