Late last week, House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson (D-Minn) sent a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. He’s asking for clarification on how USDA determined the eligibility of different crops, livestock, and poultry species under CFAP.
In the letter, Peterson contends that the data used by USDA to calculate CFAP payments was limited to only the earliest parts of the pandemic, missing the full extent of damage to specific commodities.
“Some would argue that the full agricultural market impacts of the closure of schools, restaurants, catering, and agricultural processing facilities due to COVID-19 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,” writes Peterson.
The ag chair also took issue with the reasons that certain commodities were denied payments.
“Hundreds of commodities were denied eligibility for ‘insufficient data’ and ‘lack of information,’ though it would seem that the well-documented shutdown of school meals, restaurants, and foodservice demand would have impacted those food crops, and the loss of export, landscape, and retail markets for no-food crops and livestock/poultry,” he adds. “I trust USDA is working to assist producers who’ve been denied to this point.”