Almond Alliance urges members to learn more about USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program designed to provide direct assistance for losses related to COVID-19

May 19, 2020 – -The USDA has announced the details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino urged Alliance members to learn more about the specific program directed at specialty crop producers and how it might assist their facilities and operations.

Beginning May 26, the USDA, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses.

“The almond industry has been impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic and this program may offer financial assistance to those affected,” said Trevino. The USDA said it will provide up to $2.1 billion in direct payments to specialty crops producers. The payments will be based on losses where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will help producers facing additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year as a result of COVID-19.

For eligible specialty crops, the total payment will be based on the volume of production sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020; the volume of production shipped, but unpaid; and the number of acres for which harvested production did not leave the farm or mature product destroyed or not harvested during that same time period, and which have not and will not be sold. Specialty crops include, but are not limited to, almonds, beans, broccoli, sweet corn, lemons, iceberg lettuce, spinach, squash, strawberries and tomatoes. A full list of eligible crops can be found on farmers.gov/cfap. Additional crops may be deemed eligible at a later date.

Producers that fall into one of the following categories may be eligible to receive a direct payment:

Sales with a price loss of 5% or more between January 15 and April 15, 2020. Almonds, artichokes, beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, lemons, iceberg and Romaine lettuce, dry onions, peaches, pears, pecans, bell and other types of peppers, rhubarb, spinach, squash, strawberries and tomatoes are eligible.

Shipments that left the farm by April 15 and spoiled due to no market or for which no payment was received. All specialty crops are eligible.

Shipments that have not left farm or mature crops that remained unharvested by April 15. All specialty crops are eligible.

Eligibility

There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies or limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits where members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Applying for Assistance

Producers can apply for assistance beginning on May 26, 2020. Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA office. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed. Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020.

Payment Structure

To ensure the availability of funding throughout the application period, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date as funds remain available.

USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.