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USDA Announces “Pandemic Assistance for Producers,” New CFAP Aid

Bloomberg’s Mike Dorning reported on Wednesday that, “The Biden administration announced $12 billion in new farm aid, and said it will seek to expand Covid assistance to producers that weren’t covered under the Trump administration’s pandemic relief programs.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday it would devote $6 billion to expand Covid support to additional recipients, including renewable fuel producers, specialty crop and organic farmers, timber harvesters, and support for the food chain.”

The Bloomberg article explained that,

The new round also includes $1.1 billion in aid for cattle producers and an additional $4.5 billion for new $20-an-acre payments to producers of major crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton.

“The funding was provided by Congress in Covid relief measures passed last year. The current administration paused payments to review the programs when Biden took office.”

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported on Wednesday that, “The release of the CFAP aid comes after the Biden administration had put a hold on USDA programs following the inauguration for a 60-day review. Some aid programs, such as the $20 per-acre payments to crop farmers, were also part of the December aid package, but the Trump administration did not initiate a payment program for those funds before leaving office.

“USDA also will reopen enrollment for CFAP-2 starting April 5 and accept new applications for at least the next 60 days. In a greater effort to reach socially disadvantaged farmers, USDA has set aside at least $2.5 million to connect with grassroots organizations and expand outreach to enroll more minority and women farmers into the coronavirus aid programs as well.”

Mr. Clayton pointed out that, “There is an additional $500 million in new funding set up to boost existing programs.”

Also Wednesday, Reuters writer Tom Polansek reported that, “USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said the agency needs to expand financial assistance to more farmers because a review of COVID-19 programs under former President Donald Trump found disparities in the distribution of aid. He said there also was inadequate outreach to disadvantaged producers and smaller operators.”

“Typically, most farm program payments are authorized under farm bill programs. However, since 2018, USDA has implemented several ad hoc payment programs in response to the impact on the U.S. agricultural sector of trade retaliation and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Payments under ad hoc programs are expected to decline substantially in 2021 as market and trade conditions improve.” (“U.S. Farm Income Outlook: February 2021 Forecast,” by Randy Schnepf and Stephanie Rosch. Congressional Research Service (February 24, 2021)).

The Reuters article noted that, “Since the Trump administration announced COVID-19 aid for farmers in April 2020, the USDA has sent more than $23.79 billion dollars to farmers and ranchers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The agency has spent more than $4 billion purchasing food for distribution to food banks and pantries across the country.”

The infusion of ad hoc federal farm payments, along with an increase in corn and soybean prices, have contributed to an improving agricultural economy and farm credit conditions.

Keith Good

Keith Good

Keith Good is the social media manager for the farmdoc project at the University of Illinois. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily FarmPolicy.com News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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