USDA has a new COVID-19 related initiative to provide assistance to a broader group of agriculture producers who have been impacted by market disruptions. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers will dedicate at least $6 billion toward the new programs.
“The whole goal here is to make sure that when we’re providing Covid relief we recognize that it has impacted and affected virtually every aspect of agriculture and the supply chain,” he said. “We’re trying to do our best along with the American Rescue Plan to do what we can to bolster that supply chain, to provide the help and assistance to keep people on the farm and to make sure it is equitably administered.”
Vilsack says cattle producers are in line for more assistance.
“Payments will involve under CFAP1 payments to cattle producers. They don’t need to apply. They don’t need to take additional steps. This is essentially providing additional resources to what we anticipate would be about 410,000 producers, about $1.1 billion of additional help. Rates for these producers will be published on the website farmers.gov/cfap. I would encourage cattle producers to take a look at that to determine how much they might be entitled to in addition to and above what they’ve already received.”
USDA is developing rules for new programs that will emphasize outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers, timber harvesters, as well as provide support for the food supply chain and producers of renewable fuel.
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor welcomed the biofuels portion of the announcement, saying the assistance has been long-awaited as biofuel producers were some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. At one point over half of the industry was offline.
Existing programs like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will fall within the new initiative and, where statutory authority allows, will be refined to better address the needs of producers.
USDA will reopen sign-up for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning on April 5, 2021, and the payments announced this week will go out under the existing CFAP rules.
Additional information and announcements for this USDA Pandemic Assistance to Producers initiative are coming, some detail is available now at www.farmers.gov.