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Food Producers Impacted by COVID-19 Are Eligible for USDA Assistance

  • USDA accepting applications for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2
  • Producers of several commodities can receive up to $250,000 to help offset economic disruptions occasioned by COVID-19
  • The application window will remain open until at least June 4

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Although the popular Paycheck Protection Program is entering its final days, agricultural businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may still qualify for assistance through a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative. The sign-up period for this aid is also potentially nearing its end, though.

The USDA announced on March 24 that it would be launching a $6 billion expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program as part of an effort to provide COVID-19 relief to a greater number of farming operations. The updates included the reopening of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2), additional payments for eligible cattle and row crop producers, and the processing of payments for certain applications filed as part of CFAP Additional Assistance.

Producers of several commodities are eligible for assistance, including aquaculture, dairy, livestock, and row and specialty crops. Certain commodities are not eligible for CFAP 2 funding, including crops intended for grazing or animals raised for hunting or game purposes.

Any individual or legal entity who “shares in the risk of producing a commodity” may apply for the program. They must also meet certain eligibility requirements, including abiding by conservation compliance provisions and not having a controlled substance violation; there are also certain citizenship-based restrictions.

A person or legal entity is eligible for CFAP 2 payments if their average adjusted gross income was less than $900,000 in the tax years between 2016 and 2018. The limit does not apply if 75 percent of their adjusted gross income came from farming, ranching, or forestry-related activities.

Applicants can receive up to $250,000, although payments can be higher in certain circumstances. Payments to a legal entity can be as high as $500,000 if two members provide at least 400 hours of active personal labor, active personal management, or a combination thereof with respect to the production of 2020 commodities. If three members contribute this effort, the entity’s payment is capped at $750,000.

The USDA opened CFAP 2 to applications on April 5 with the intent of keeping this sign-up window open for at least 60 days. This would end the period on June 4, although the USDA has not yet announced a deadline.

CFAP 2 applicants will need to reference their sales, inventory, and other records when filling out their information, although the program is self-certified and the documentation does not need to be submitted with the application. Applicants can also consult with their USDA Service Center for more information.

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