Washington—The US Department of Ag just extended the deadline for farmers to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to September 11. 28 farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau, requested the deadline extension last week. The Farm Bureaus John Newton says data from the USDA shows most of the funds in the program are still available.
“Through the first eight to nine weeks we’ve seen only about $7 billion of the estimated $15.4 billion go out to producers. And in the case of specialty crop producers, at this point, only about $300 million has been paid to those growers. So, I think they need more time to engage with FSA, do a little bit more outreach so that farmers across the country know that this critical support is available,” said Newton.
Data from USDA shows the current farmer participation rate for CFAP is roughly 25 percent. Newton says the availability of aid shows that the needs of farmers haven’t been met.
“So, we know there are more producers out there, especially some of our smaller specialty crop producers. We need to make sure that they know these programs are available. When you dive into the specialty crops, two weeks ago only about one percent of the payments for carrots had gone out the door, apple payments were standing around ten percent, so there is significantly more funding available to help specialty crop producers impacted by coronavirus,” said Newton.
USDA also expanded the number of covered commodities included in CFAP. Among the additions are dozens of specialty crops, aquaculture, and seed and nursery crops.