USDA announced plans Tuesday to provide additional coronavirus relief to farmers, biofuel producers and food companies and to expand the Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers conservation initiative, known as CLEAR30, to the entire country.

CLEAR30, which incentivizes eligible producers to commit to water quality practices on their Conservation Reserve Program acreage for 30 years, is now limited to the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay regions. 

USDA said it would be releasing the new coronavirus relief over the next 60 days. Biofuel producers are expected to receive $700 million in payments, while the dairy industry in will receive aid in several different ways, including $400 million through the new Dairy Donation Program to address food insecurity and mitigate food waste and loss and $580 million in supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage for small and medium farms.

Payments also will be going to contract poultry growers and livestock and poultry producers who were forced to euthanize animals during the pandemic.

Some $700 million will be provided to fund personal protective equipment and other protective measures for specialty crop growers, meat processors, seafood industry workers and others. 

CLEAR30, a part of the 2018 farm bill, is intended to build on landowners' 10- to 15-year CRP contracts. Cropland and some pastureland currently enrolled in a CRP contract are both eligible.

“We are excited to expand this option to enable more producers to take their conservation efforts to the next level,” said Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Offering CLEAR30 in all states enables durable maintenance of conservation investments and enhanced stewardship of the land and waterways on a larger scale.”

Interested in more news on farm programs, trade and rural issues? Sign up for a four-week free trial to Agri-Pulse. You’ll receive our content - absolutely free - during the trial period.

USDA announced on Monday that it was setting a July 23 deadline for applying for the Conservation Reserve Program. Applications for the CRP Grasslands program will be open until Aug. 20.

The 30-year span is meant to ensure that these practices make a long-term difference in soil and water health. 

Producers with CRP contracts must sign up for the program by Aug. 6.