(ACES) — Changes to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) announced earlier this month is good news for Alabama’s contract poultry growers.
“The USDA changes mean that relief funds are available to contract poultry and other contract growers affected by COVID-19 market changes,” said Dennis Brothers, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System agricultural economist.
Brothers said contract poultry growers need to understand what information the program requires as part of their application for CFAP funds.
- Contract poultry producers are eligible for the payment if they produced broilers, pullets, layers, and chicken eggs under a contract in both the 2019 and 2020 calendar years. To qualify, these producers must have received revenue under such a contract during the period from January 1, 2020, through December 27, 2020, and sustained a loss in eligible revenue for 2020.
- If revenue decreased in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, then payment will be equal to 80 percent of the difference in revenue.
- Growers must certify the revenue amounts for each year and proof of contract for 2019 and 2020 must be provided. The program may also require additional supporting documentation. This documentation may include the following:
- 1099 forms
- Flock settlement documents
- Ledgers of income
- Income or revenue statements
- Other documentation as requested by their FSA office.
Brothers noted that this is a self-certification program.
“Growers must provide all needed documents to prove their losses,” he said. “Each application will be reviewed, and applicants are subject to further FSA audit. That’s why I encourage growers to gather all possible documentation as they prepare their initial application.”
He said producers must show their revenues for the periods Jan. 1-Dec. 27 of each year. The program will not consider revenue from Dec. 28-31. Additionally, growers must have produced during both 2019 and 2020.
“New growers who only produced in 2020 are not eligible,” Brothers said. “That’s unfortunate, but the program requires two years of income information.”
Newly eligible producers who need to submit a CFAP 2 application, or producers who need to modify an existing one, can do so between Jan. 19 and Feb. 26 by contacting their local USDA Service Center. New applicants can also obtain one-on-one support by calling (877) 508-8364. More information can be found at www.farmers.gov/cfap.
State Also Provided Support to Contract Growers
In fall 2020, state poultry growers had an opportunity for loss compensation from the Poultry Farmer Stabilization Grant Program, which is part of the Alabama Agricultural Stabilization Program. The program, administered by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, has distributed more than $3.4 million to the state’s contract poultry growers.
“This state assistance funded by the CARES Act supported growers who experienced extended downtimes between flocks, decreased birds per flock or changes in target grow-out weights for birds and were not otherwise compensated,” Brothers said.
Contract Poultry Growers Often Overlooked
Adam Rabinowitz, who is also an Alabama Extension agriculture economist, said government support programs often leave out contract poultry growers. Initial USDA programs to support farmers excluded contract poultry growers. Also, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program provided limited options.
“Contract growers get left out because of a misconception that not owning their birds insulates them from market and production impacts,” Rabinowitz said.
A survey conducted by Alabama Extension indicated 45 percent of breeder growers suffered negative impacts because of the pandemic.
Brothers and Rabinowitz agree that the state’s poultry growers will benefit from the new access to CFAP funds.
“These relief funds can have a significant impact for growers who comprise such a large sector of Alabama’s agricultural industry,” Brothers said.