(April 6, 2021) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the availability of $2 million to establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
(April 6, 2021) USDA has also reopened FSA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) signup as part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative and is is now accepting applications. Farmers and ranchers will have at least 60 days to apply or make modifications to their existing CFAP 2 applications.
(March 24, 2021) Pandemic Assistance for Producers will provide more than $12 billion in assistance, which will help farmers who did not qualify for COVID-19 aid previously and will expand assistance to farmers who have already received help. 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.” There are four parts to the new program. Part 1 will Invest $6 Billion to expand help and assistance to more producers, developing new programs or modifying existing proposals using discretionary funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act or other unspent coronavirus funding. Part 2 will add $500 Million to existing programs, including the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, the Farmers opportunities Training & Outreach program, the Local Agricultural Marketing Program, and others. Part 3 will include carrying out formula payments under CFAP 1, 2, and AA, and Part 4 will reopen CFAP2 signup for underserved producers, which will commence on April 5th and be open for 60 days. You can find more information on this announcement, and details by commodity at www.farmers.gov/cfap. Farmers who previously submitted CFAP applications will not have to apply again. Sign up for the new program begins April 5th. You can read the latest on this announcement from American Farm Bureau Federation HERE.
(January 27, 2021) Due to the national public health emergency caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). USDA will temporarily suspend non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice; and USDA will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop judicial foreclosures and evictions on accounts that were previously referred to the Department of Justice. Additionally, USDA has extended deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers. In addition, for the Guaranteed Loan program, flexibilities have been made available to lenders to assist in servicing their customers. According to USDA data, more than 12,000 borrowers—approximately 10% of all borrowers—are eligible for the relief announced today. Overall, FSA lends to more than 129,000 farmers, ranchers and producers.
(January 15, 2021) USDA has announced additional assistance through the CFAP, expanding eligibility for some agricultural producers and commodities as well as updating payments to accurately compensate some producers who had already applied for the program. Producers who are now eligible and those who need to modify existing applications due to these updates can contact USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) between Jan. 19 and Feb. 26 by contacting their local USDA Service Center. Some of these changes are being made to align with the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 while others are discretionary changes being made in response to ongoing evaluation of CFAP. In addition to the changes being made to CFAP, per language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, FSA will extend 2020 Marketing Assistance Loans to provide additional flexibilities for farmers. FSA is also preparing to move forward on implementation of the remaining provisions of the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. To learn more about this additional assistance, visit www.farmers.gov/cfap.
(January 4, 2021) USDA announces the fifth round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program with $1.5 billion in food purchases for nationwide distribution. USDA has distributed more than 132 million food boxes to families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
(September 21, 2020) USDA announces extension of more than a dozen flexibilities ensuring participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) continue receiving the food and health support they need during the COIVD_19 pandemic. Find more info on waivers here.
(September 18, 2020) USDA announces additional assistance to farmers impacted by the coronavirus via a CFAP 2 Program which includes $14 billion for agriculture producers who face market disruptions and associated costs. Sign up begins September 21 and runs through December 11, 2020. CFAP 2 payments will be made for three categories of commodities – Price Trigger Commodities, Flat-rate Crops, and Sales Commodities. A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found at www.farmers.gov/cfap.
(June 3, 2020) USDA announced alternative housing resources for season ag laborers and other ag workforce. Read it here.
(May 21, 2020) The USDA has announced $1 Billion in loan guarantees for rural businesses and ag producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans. Read more about the USDA Business & Industry CARES Act Program here.
(May 4, 2020) USDA has announced $100 million in competitive grants to expand the availability and sale of renewable fuels. The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) funds can assist transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities with converting to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to and/or offering sales incentives for the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment, and infrastructure.
(May 4, 2020) USDA has announced $470 million in Section 32 food purchases to occur in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, in addition to previously announced purchases, which will enable USDA to purchase surplus food for distribution to communities nationwide. The plan from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) can be found here.
USDA Service Centers
All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some where visitors can conduct business in person, by appointment.
USDA is using data to make county-level decisions regarding phased re-opening of USDA Service Centers for visitors. Visit farmers.gov/coronavirus/service-center-status to check the status of your local USDA Service Center.
All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment.
USDA Programs and Flexibilities
USDA has worked to create programs and provide flexibilities for farmers impacted by COVID-19, including for:
- Animal Mortality
- Commodity Loans
- Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (AFBF overview of CFAP2)
- Crop Acreage Reporting
- Crop Insurance
- Disposed Milk
- Farm Loans
- National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
NASS statistical reports remain on schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic. NASS also continues to collect data for all upcoming reports, asking farmers and ranchers to complete their surveys online, if they don’t already respond that way. To protect the health and safety of producers, partners, and employees, NASS has suspended in-person data collection at this time.