The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced its plans to distribute more than $12 billion under a program called Pandemic Assistance for Producers, which includes aid that had been put on hold as well as funds newly allocated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
The program expands assistance to farmers helped by existing programs and assists farmers and ranchers who previously did not qualify for COVID-19 aid. Farmers will need to sign up only if they are applying for new programs or if they are eligible for CFAP assistance and did not previously apply.
“We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s action to release funds and expand eligibility for farmers hit hard by the devastating effects of COVID-19,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said. “USDA’s decision to distribute aid based upon previous applications will help deliver assistance quickly.”
The funding includes $5.6 billion that will be directed to formula payments to cattle producers and eligible flat-rate or price trigger crops. Another $6 billion will be used to develop new programs or modify existing proposals using remaining discretionary funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The USDA expects these efforts to include assistance for euthanized livestock and poultry, personal protective equipment and other protective measures for food and farm workers, improving the resilience of the food supply chain and other uses.
In addition, $500 million in new funding is included for existing programs such as the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach Program, Local Agricultural Marketing Program, Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills Program.
Sign-ups for the new program begin April 5, 2021.