The U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended the deadline for farmers to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, known as CFAP. The deadline is now September 11. Twenty-eight farm groups joined American Farm Bureau Federation requesting the deadline extension in a letter to the USDA. AFBF Chief Economist John Newton says data from the Department of Agriculture shows about half the funding is still available.
“Through the first eight to nine weeks we’ve seen only about $7 billion of the estimated $15.4 billion go out to producers,” Newton explained. “And in the case of specialty crop producers, at this point only about $300 million has been paid to those growers. So, I think they need more time to engage with FSA, do a little bit more outreach, so that farmers across the country know that this critical support is available.”
Data from USDA shows the current farmer participation rate for CFAP is roughly 25 percent. Newton says the availability of aid doesn’t mean the needs of all farmers have been met.
“So, we know there are more producers out there, especially some of our smaller specialty crop producers,” he said. “We need to make sure that they know these programs are available. When you dive into the specialty crops, two weeks ago only about one percent of the payments for carrots had gone out the door, apple payments were standing around ten percent, so there’s significantly more funding available help specialty crop producers impacted by coronavirus.”
USDA also expanded the number of covered commodities included in CFAP. Among the additions are dozens of specialty crops, aquaculture and nursery crops and cut flowers. USDA’s Farm Service Agency is accepting CFAP applications and you can learn more at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap.