CFAP Update: USDA announces more inclusive CFAP application and extends deadline
Pandemic relief programs have been rolling out payments to producers, with rumors a fourth coronavirus assistance program could be on its way. In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Aug. 11 nearly 60 new livestock and commodities eligible for payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) as well as an extended deadline for applications.
CFAP to include mature sheep
Leaders in the sheep industry, including the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and the National Lamb Feeders Association (NFLA), asked legislators in late June to include replacement and cull ewes in CFAP eligibility, as losses exceeded the five percent or greater price decline threshold.
“Our industry continues to suffer greatly, and USDA’s ability to respond to current and future losses have proven insufficient,” reads their letter to Congressional leaders. “Our initial estimated economic impact to the American sheep industry forecasts a loss of at least $353 million in 2020, and it is clear now we will eclipse this number.”
More recently, a letter following the closure of Mountain States Rosen urged USDA to aid sheep and lamb producers to find processing and marketing options along with financial assistance for those impacted by market declines.
“This pandemic continues to take a disproportionate toll on farmers and ranchers, and the impacts that even one processor closing has on the ability of lamb and sheep producers to get by in these tough times is something we can and should remedy,” says House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa (D-CA).
As a result of data and comments submitted to the USDA, sheep greater than two years of age are now eligible for CFAP payments following the Aug. 11 announcement. The payment rate for part one is $24 per head, while the payment rate for part two payments is $7 per head.
Also announced in the Aug. 11 CFAP update, USDA has extended the application deadline for producers from Aug. 28 to Sept. 11. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), along with 27 other agricultural organizations, sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue last week requesting the extension.
“We write to express our concern that the Aug. 28 CFAP deadline may exclude eligible producers from participating in the program, including producers of commodities recently added to the list of eligible commodities and commodities likely to become eligible through the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process,” the Aug. 7 letter reads.
AFBF recognized their appreciation for the application deadline extension as well as inclusion of additional livestock and specialty crops.
“Many hardworking families have not gone through federal programs before and need help navigating their way through the process,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We thank USDA for responding quickly to our letter and addressing the needs of America’s farmers and ranchers as they fight to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. No one can tell when this pandemic will end, and extending the deadline and expanding eligibility will provide a lifeline at a time it’s needed most.”
Beef industry update
In the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Aug. 7 Beltway Beef podcast, Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane and Executive Director of Government Affairs Danielle Beck provide an update on coronavirus pandemic relief for cattle producers and discuss the potential for new funding to be released.
“The CFAP is now several months into implementation,” says Lane. “Sixteen billion dollars were put together by USDA, and through this week, we know they have spent about $6.8 billion of that $16 billion.”
“This leaves quite a bit of money left to help producers through this program,” continues Lane.
He explains CFAP part two payments were substantially lower, about $33 per head lower, for producers who still had inventory on hand after April 15 and through May 15. Payouts from part two of the CFAP program are currently at 80 percent.
“It is important the USDA use those resources that we in the industry and other groups have already helped secure for them on Capitol Hill,” states Lane. “We would love to see them use the $14 billion funded by the Commodty Credit Corporation Program to ensure some additional resources are pushed out the door to those part two recipients and to ensure those other 20 percent payments go out on time.”
Lane shares NCBA’s approval of support for beef producers in coronavirus assistance.
“We are pleased this week to hear House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson make the point cattle producers have not gotten what they need or what they deserve out of the program”, says Lane. “He is interested in making sure producers in our neck of the woods are taken care of through those CFAP funds.”
“This has been one of those times where we see what strong support our industry has on Capitol Hill, both from Republicans and Democrats,” continues Lane. “We still have a lot of work to do. We still have producers that need to get more support out of this program, and hopefully we will see some additional funding.”
Additional funding on the way
While applications are still open for the CFAP program, legislators have been working on a fourth coronavirus assistance package. Ideally, the bill would have passed before Congress began the August recess on Aug. 7, but will have to wait until working sessions reconvene.
“The House signaled their interest in a fourth COVID-19 relief package months ago, and we are waiting on the Senate,” says Beck. “The Senate is taking more time with the bill, wanting to see how the virus really impacts folks. Maybe it will be a better, more informed process.”
The Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act is a $1 trillion economic stimulus bill introduced by the Senate to supplement the CARES Act the CFAP comes out of. According to Beck, there is $20 million in the bill specifically for agriculture assistance.
“It is our understanding that a lot of lead negotiators in both parties were meeting for more than three hours last week,” says Beck. “We might not see COVID-19 legislation before people go home for August recess.”
Beck concludes, saying she expects to see a resolution to get everyone through the election in November, uncertain legislators will work to pass a large assistance package before the election.
Averi Hales is the editor for the Wyoming Live- stock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.