CFAP Program Released, Questions Abound
The US Department of Agriculture has released plans to open the $16 Billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) meant to provide aid directly to farmers and ranchers. Signup for the program begins next Tuesday, May 26th through the Farm Services Agency (FSA).
A lot of questions and concerns remain about this program, how it works and who it will help. For the best thinking we have access to right now review the NSAC blog post released today at: https://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/covid-cfap-signup/
Here’s a little bit more about what we know and questions we have right now.
- The funding for this program will be provided on a first come, first serve basis. So if you think this program will help you get started on the process as quickly as you can. Although this is the largest agricultural payment program in history, we expect the demand to be more than the funds available.
- Payments will be made on volume not lost income or profit. Which means for local food producers who sell directly to consumers at a premium but produce low volumes, this program may not be very helpful.
- It’s going to work best for farmers and ranchers with a relationship established with FSA. Many small and speciality crop producers may not have a relationship with FSA and that will have to be established prior to the application process going forward. So it’s strongly suggested that if you don’t have a relationship, you call for an appointment on Tuesday and start the process. This process takes time … and the program payments are first come, first serve.
- Your crop may not be covered. 44 speciality crops are specifically mentioned and 11 commodity crops. However many are not including poultry, rice and wheat. This is bad news but USDA may add some crops later and has reserved some funding for crops that fall into this category.
- You have to document your loss. This is going to be easier for those who don’t have a diverse farm or ranch and harder for those producing dozens of different crops. USDA will be releasing a “calculator” on Tuesday to help producers work through the process.
- Please let us know what problems you’re facing as you go through this program. NSAC and other national organizations are going to be bringing issues about this rollout directly to the USDA and it’s important they know what farmers and ranchers are facing.
Farmers Legal Action Group, NSAC, Intertribal Agriculture Council and others are working on a document explaining this program in full and hopefully answering many questions that remain. We will share that with you as soon as it becomes available.