Farmers encouraged to prepare for federal assistance program
by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide $16 billion in direct payments to support American farmers impacted by COVID-19, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is advising Florida farmers and ranchers to fill out forms in advance of applications being accepted starting May 26 through county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices.
“As our nation’s farmers suffer monumental losses due to COVID-19, this CFAP assistance is a crucial first step towards helping agriculture producers recover from this pandemic,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “But making sure Florida’s farmers get the assistance they need will require more federal support — many of our seasonal crops, nursery operations, and non-marine aquaculture were not included in this initial round of assistance, and the direct payment limits will cover a fraction of the losses they’ve suffered. I will continue working with the USDA and Congress to ensure the needs of our producers are communicated and the magnitude of their losses are understood. Because these funds are available on a limited basis to all of our nation’s farmers, I’m urging Florida agricultural producers to immediately gather information and begin filling out the necessary paperwork to apply.”
CFAP will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to agricultural producers who have suffered a five percent or greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs. From May 26 through August 28, producers can submit applications through their county FSA office. Because of the limited nature of the funds, Commissioner Fried is urging producers to begin preparing information and documentation required to submit an application.
To be eligible, a person or legal entity must have an average adjusted gross income of less than $900,000 for tax years 2015, 2016, and 2017. If 75 percent of their adjusted gross income comes from farming, ranching, or forestry, the limit of $900,000 does not apply. Additional eligibility requirements are listed at farmers.gov/cfap.
Payments are subject to a per person and legal entity payment limit of $250,000. Corporations, limited liability companies, and limited partnerships (corporate entities) may receive up to $750,000 based on the number of shareholders (not to exceed three) who contribute at least 400 hours of active person management or personal active labor. For specific limits on corporate entity payments,
To ensure availability of funding through the application period, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon application approval. The remaining portion, not to exceed the limit, will be paid at a later date as funds remain available.
While the application process does not open until May 26, producers should start gathering and understanding their recent sales and inventory. Local FSA staff will work with producers to apply for the program.
Forms will ask for the following:
● Name and address
● Personal information, including your Tax Identification Number
● Farm operating structure
● Adjusted Gross Income compliance certification to ensure eligibility
● Direct deposit to enable payment processing
The following forms will be needed to complete a CFAP application:
Identifies members of a farm or ranch that is a legal entity. Member Information will be completed by legal entities and joint operations
Reports average adjusted gross income for programs where income restrictions apply
If applicable, this certification reports income from farming, ranching, and forestry for those exceeding the adjusted gross income limitation
Ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed, identified wetland areas are protected, and conservation compliance provisions are met
Provides basic customer contact information
Collects banking information so payments can be made via direct deposit
Existing customers will likely have this information on file at the local Service Center. In addition to the application form, FSA staff will work with producers to complete portions of the CCC-902 Farm Operating Plan form if necessary. FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed.
USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only. Once the application period opens, producers should call their local FSA office to schedule an appointment. FSA staff at local USDA Service Centers will work with producers to file applications. USDA anticipates releasing payments 7-10 days after applications are received.
Non-specialty crops eligible include malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat. Wool is also eligible. Producers will be paid based on inventory subject to price risk held as of January 15, 2020. Payment will be based 50 percent of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory as of January 15, 2020, whichever is smaller, multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates.
Livestock eligible include cattle, lambs, yearlings and hogs. The total payment will be calculated using the sum of the producer’s number of livestock sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020, multiplied by the payment rates per head, and the highest inventory number of livestock between April 16 and May 14, 2020, multiplied by the payment rate per head.
For dairy, the total payment will be calculated based on a producer’s certification of milk production for the first quarter of calendar year 2020 multiplied by a national price decline during the same quarter. The second part of the payment is based a national adjustment to each producer’s production in the first quarter.
Payment will be based on the volume of production sold between January 15 and April 15; the volume of production shipped, but unpaid; and the number of acres for which harvested production did not leave the farm or mature product destroyed or not harvested during that same time period, and which have not and will not be sold. Specialty crops include, but are not limited to, almonds, beans, broccoli, sweet corn, lemons, iceberg lettuce, spinach, squash, strawberries and tomatoes. A full list of eligible crops can be found on
. Additional crops may be deemed eligible at a later date. USDA will make an additional $873.3 million in Section 32 purchases of specialty crops products for distribution to food banks.
for the latest purchase solicitations.
Commodities that did not suffer a five percent-or-greater price decline from mid-January to mid-April are not eligible. This includes sheep more than two years old, eggs/layers, soft red winter wheat, hard red winter wheat, white wheat, rice, flax, rye, peanuts, feed barley, Extra Long Staple (ELS) cotton, alfalfa, forage crops, hemp, and tobacco. For all commodities except hemp and tobacco, USDA may reconsider exclusion if evidence is provided that supports a five percent price decline.
Producers of commodities not included on the CFAP list who believe they meet the requirements, may submit comments to provide information about additional commodities. USDA is particularly interested in information on other agricultural categories including cut flowers, nursery, and aquaculture products. More information on this is