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FSA provides details on Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

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During the weeks beginning June 8 and June 15, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) hosted a series of webinars outlining the details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). 

CFAP

            According to USDA, CFAP is a financial assistance program for producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five percent or greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

            CFAP uses funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and other existing USDA programs to provide the $19 billion relief program to directly support to agriculture producers as well as the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. 

            On top of suffering financial losses caused by COVID-19, USDA requires eligible producers, be that an individual or legal entity, to have an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $900,000 for tax year 2016, 2017 and 2018. However, if 75 percent of their AGI comes from farming, ranching or forestry, the AGI limit of $900,000 does not apply, according to USDA. 

            USDA also states, “Eligible persons and legal entities must also comply with the provision of conservation compliance provisions, not have a controlled substance violation, and if a foreign person, provides land, capital and a substantial amount of active personal labor to the farming operation.” 

            Farmers and ranchers eligible for CFAP will receive one payment, drawn from two possible funding sources. 

The first source is a $9.5 billion in appropriated funding provided in the CARES Act and compensates farmers for losses due to price declines that occurred between mid January and mid-April, and for specialty crops, for product that was shipped and spoiled or unpaid. 

The second funding source uses the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act to compensate producers for $6.5 billion in losses due to ongoing market disruptions. 

Specialty Crops

            There are nearly 45 specialty crops eligible for CFAP payments. These include tomatoes, strawberries, spinach, squash, rhubarb, raspberries, potatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, mushrooms, cucumbers, sweet corn, carrots, cabbage, asparagus and beans, as well as several others.

According to FSA, specialty crop producers are eligible for CFAP payments in three categories. The first category is for crops that suffered a five percent or greater price decline and were sold between Jan. 15 and April 15. 

            The second category is for produce shipped between Jan. 15 and April 15, but subsequently spoiled or was unpaid due to the loss of a marketing channel.

            The third category is for shipments that did not leave the farm or mature crops that remained unharvested as of April 15.

            “Each crop qualifies for one or more categories of payments,” FSA states. “If crops fall into several categories, all of those commodities will receive one payment per application.”

Non-specialty crops

            According to FSA, non-specialty crops eligible for CFAP include malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat and hard red spring wheat. 

            Crops intended for use on the farm or ranch, such as silage are eligible, while crops intended for grazing are not. 

            “Producers will be paid based on inventory subject to price risk held as of Jan. 15, 2020. A single payment will be made based on 50 percent of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory as of Jan. 15, whichever is smaller, multiplied by 50 percent and then multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates,” FSA explains. 

            For certification of non-specialty crops, FSA notes producers must provide total 2019 production in bushels for each crop that suffered a five percent or greater loss, as well as total 2019 production in bushels that wasn’t sold as of Jan 1. 

            “Regardless of use, corn should be reported in bushels. Tonnage of silage and hay production should also be converted to bushels,” states FSA. “Local FSA offices can help producers with these conversions.” 

Dairy

            FSA points out U.S. dairy operations that commercially market milk are eligible for CFAP as well. 

            “Dairy operations are eligible for CFAP if they have commercially marketed milk for one or more months beginning January and ending in March,” FSA explains. “Dumped milk for one or more months during that same time frame is also eligible for CFAP, and dissolved dairy operations that meet eligibility requirements can also apply.” 

            The agency says operations that participate in dairy revenue insurance programs such as Dairy Margin Coverage, Dairy Revenue Protection and Livestock Gross Margin, are able to apply for the program. 

            Dairy producers applying for CFAP are required to self certify the accuracy of their application. Therefore, FSA encourages them to keep accurate documentation and be prepared for spot checks.

Livestock

            Livestock eligible for CFAP include cattle, hogs and pigs, lambs and yearlings.

FSA notes there are several categories of eligible livestock, which include feeder cattle less than 600 pounds, feeder cattle at and over 600 pounds, fed slaughter cattle, mature slaughter cattle, all other cattle, pigs less than 120 pounds, hogs at or above 120 pounds and all sheep less than two years of age. 

FSA further notes, “Ineligible livestock are any livestock used for dairy production and/or intended for dairy production, livestock purchased after Jan. 15 and sold on or before April 15 and livestock subject to an agreed upon price in the future through a forward contract, agreement or similar binding document as of Jan. 15.” 

“Suggested documentation to help producers report accurate information includes sales receipts, inventory records, breeding records, feeding records and financial records,” FSA adds. 

Wool

            Wool producers are also able to apply for CFAP. 

            FSA notes eligible wool is separated into two categories – graded wool paid on a clean basis and non-graded wool paid on a greasy basis. 

            For certification, wool producers must provide information on their total 2019 production in pounds of wool and their total 2019 production in pounds of wool not sold as of April 15, as long as the sheep were owned by Jan. 15, 2020. 

            Hannah Bugas is the managing editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to roundup@wylr.net.

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