COVID-19 Aid Released and Expanded to Include More Producers
(AFBF) — USDA 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 assists farmers and ranchers who previously did not qualify for COVID-19 aid and expands assistance to farmers helped by existing programs. 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.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack shared details of the new plan during a virtual meeting today with state Farm Bureau presidents and American Farm Bureau leadership.
“We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s action to release funds and expand eligibility for farmers hit hard by the devastating effects of COVID-19,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “USDA’s decision to distribute aid based upon previous applications will help deliver assistance quickly. It was good to hear directly from the Secretary today about this program and his priorities going forward.”
The funding includes $6 billion to develop new programs or modify existing proposals using remaining discretionary funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act. USDA expects this to include funding for personal protective equipment (PPE), compensation to offset the pandemic’s impact on biofuels, specialty crops and farmers forced to euthanize animals due to supply chain issues, among other uses.
Another $5.6 billion will be directed to formula payments to cattle producers and eligible flat-rate or price trigger crops. 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.
AFBF urges USDA to quickly accomplish the needed regulatory changes to deliver assistance to contract livestock and poultry growers who have yet to receive aid, despite specific authorization from Congress.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on USDA’s Expanded Agriculture Pandemic Assistance
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services works to support Florida’s $147 billion agriculture industry, including seasonal produce growers who faced $522 million in pandemic-related losses and oversees plant and animal disease detection and prevention in Florida. Of the additional USDA funding, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried offered the following statement:
“Florida’s proud farmers, ranchers, and growers have had a tough year, working to overcome half a billion dollars in pandemic-related losses while keeping their workers safe and producing the domestic food supply on which 150 million American families rely. With USDA support last year slow in coming and inconsistent across agricultural sectors, Florida agriculture deeply appreciates this expanded, inclusive approach to federal support. Our seasonal produce growers have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19 and will benefit from additional specialty crop grant funding, PPE will help keep our farmworkers safe in fields and packing houses, and financial support for new, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers will make our entire $147 billion agriculture industry stronger. I thank Secretary Vilsack for putting our farmers first with this USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative and look forward to seeing these resources put to work for Florida producers.”