US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Announcement: March 24, 2021
WASHINGTON, March 24, 2021—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA is establishing new programs and efforts to bring financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and producers who felt the impact of COVID-19 market disruptions. The new initiative—USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers—will reach a broader set of producers than in previous COVID-19 aid programs. USDA is dedicating at least $6 billion toward the new programs. The Department will also develop rules for new programs that will put a greater emphasis on outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers, timber harvesters, as well as provide support for the food supply chain and producers of renewable fuel, among others. Existing programs like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will fall within the new initiative and, where statutory authority allows, will be refined to better address the needs of producers.
USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers was needed, said Vilsack, after a review of previous COVID-19 assistance programs targeting farmers identified a number of gaps and disparities in how assistance was distributed as well as inadequate outreach to underserved producers and smaller and medium operations.
“The pandemic affected all of agriculture, but many farmers did not benefit from previous rounds of pandemic-related assistance. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to helping as many producers as possible, as equitably as possible,” said Vilsack. “Our new USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative will help get financial assistance to a broader set of producers, including to socially disadvantaged communities, small and medium sized producers, and farmers and producers of less traditional crops.”
USDA will reopen sign-up for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning on April 5, 2021. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has committed at least $2.5 million to improve outreach for CFAP 2 and will establish partnerships with organizations with strong connections to socially disadvantaged communities to ensure they are informed and aware of the application process.
The payments announced today (under Part 3, below) will go out under the existing CFAP rules; however, future opportunities for USDA Pandemic Assistance will be reviewed for verified need and during the rulemaking process, USDA will look to make eligibility more consistent with the Farm Bill. Moving forward, USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers will utilize existing programs, such as the Local Agricultural Marketing Program, Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach, and Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, and others to enhance educational and market opportunities for agricultural producers.
Click Here for the Full Announcement: USDA Press Release Pandemic Assistance Initiative
An estimated $12 billion will fund the USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers to ensure that farmers and ranchers receive much need support along with expanding assistance programs. The following list highlights what programs will be receiving funding through the Pandemic Assistance for Producers.
1. $6 billion to develop new programs or modify existing proposals.
2. Additional $500 million will be added to existing programs. The breakdown is as follows:
-$100 million will be set aside for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
-$75 million will go to the Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach Program
-$100 million will be set aside for the Local Agricultural Marketing Program
-$75 million additional funding for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program
-$20 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to improve and maintain animal disease prevention and response capacity
-$20 million for the Agricultural Research Service to work collaboratively with Texas A&M
-$28 million for the National Institute of Food Agriculture (NIFA) to provide grants to state departments of agriculture
-Approximately $80 million in additional payments to domestic users of upland and extra-long staple cotton
3. USDA will follow through on provisions outlined in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 for CFAP 1, CFAP 2, CFAP AA.
4. USDA will re-open sign-up for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning on April 5, 2021.