Producers can once again sign up to receive funding from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program after a freeze on the program from the early days of the Biden administration and the recent rollout of additional funds for pandemic relief.
According to USDA, signup begins today and will be open for “at least 60 days.” The initial signup for the program ended in December. In announcing the reopened signup, USDA also announced the availability of $2 million to “establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.”
“USDA is committed to making financial assistance available to a broader set of producers, including to socially disadvantaged communities, and we know that we need partners to help make that happen,” Zach Ducheneaux, administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency, said in a statement.
“This funding will support grassroots organizations and public institutions as we support their producers,” he added. “I am excited to see their innovative, results-driven proposals to help us reach our producers, especially those who have not taken full advantage of the available assistance.”
Awards will range from $20,000 to $99,999 for a duration of six months to one year, USDA noted.
CFAP was originally rolled out by the Trump administration in April 2020 and was expanded in September to include additional commodities. In March, the Biden administration announced another $6 billion in pandemic relief as well as the tweaking of previous CFAP formulas.
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“Today’s announcement supports USDA’s efforts to bring financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and producers who felt the impact of COVID-19 market disruptions,” USDA said Monday in a release. “The new initiative — USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers — will reach a broader set of producers than in previous COVID-19 aid programs.”
As part of the additional $6 billion in funding, USDA says it “will also develop rules for new programs” with an eye on “a greater emphasis on outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers, and timber harvesters, as well as provide support for the food supply chain and producers of renewable fuel, among others.”
An Agri-Pulse analysis of CFAP payments through Jan. 8, 2021, showed the payments went heavily toward larger operations; just 5% of individuals and entities accounted for more than half the payments during that time frame.
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