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USDA expands CFAP 2 eligibility

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced up to $1 billion is being made available to farmers who previously were ineligible for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 payments.

Contract livestock and poultry producers and specialty crop growers can apply for payments under new CFAP 2 guidelines, which were expanded Aug. 24. The CFAP 2 sign-up period also has been extended, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency will continue to accept new and modified applications until Oct. 12.

CFAP-eligible commodities now include broilers, ducks, geese, hogs and pigs, laying hens, pheasants, pullets, turkeys and quail. Breeding stock and eggs of all eligible poultry types produced under contract also are covered. Grass seed also was added to the list of eligible specialty crops.

Tony Banks, senior assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, noted the expansion should benefit Virginia farmers. He explained that most Virginia-raised hogs and poultry aren’t owned by local farmers, but rather by the processing companies with which the producers contract.

Due to COVID-19, many contract livestock and poultry producers incurred losses that were caused by fewer animals placed on their farms or processing delays. Now that they’re eligible to apply for payments, those farmers can recoup some of their lost income.

Additionally, USDA has amended the payment calculation for specialty crops, allowing producers to substitute 2019 sales figures with 2018 numbers. Previous program guidelines dictated payments for specialty crops were based only on 2019 sales, which were used to estimate what producers could expect to market in 2020.

Giving farmers the option to choose between marketing years when applying for CFAP 2 payments also could help their bottom lines, Banks added.

“No two marketing years are ever the same for any farmer,” he said. “By allowing farmers to select between 2018 and 2019 sales data, USDA has given farmers the opportunity to choose between a year that may be typical versus one that was abnormal.”

American Farm Bureau Federation also lauded the changes to CFAP 2, which the organization had advocated for since first raising concerns about farmers being left out by the program in May 2020.

“We appreciate USDA recognizing the incredible losses farmers endured during the height of the pandemic,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “While previous CFAP funding addressed many losses, AFBF recognized that contract growers were left out and worked with lawmakers and the administration to ensure all farmers’ voices were being heard.

“COVID relief will help farmers across the country recover from the damage caused by the pandemic and ensure they can continue putting food on the table for America’s families.”