Commodity prices across the board have been significantly impacted as a result of the economic consequences of social distancing and the closing of non-essential businesses, especially the full or partial shuttering of the retail, food service and restaurant sectors. In order to assist United States farmers and ranchers who are taking the brunt of these steep declines, USDA has announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

What’s in USDA’s New Coronavirus Food Assistance Program?

Direct Payments

Details. The package provides $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses. Recipients of the payments will include:

  • Cattle: $5.1 billion
  • Dairy: $2.9 billion
  • Hogs: $1.6 billion
  • Row Crops: $3.9 billion
  • Specialty Crops: $2.1 billion
  • Other: $500 million

Producers will receive a single payment, determined using two calculations:

  • 85 percent of price losses that occurred January 1 through April 15
  • 30 percent of expected losses from April 15 through the next two quarters

Eligibility. Commodities eligible for direct payments are those that have seen a 5 percent or greater decrease in price between January and April. There will be a $125,000 payment limit per commodity, with an overall cap of $250,000 per farm or individual. Because payments are based on actual loss, producers should also be prepared to provide evidence to self-certify demonstrated losses.

Timing. Sign up is expected to begin at County FSA offices in early May. Payments should be distributed beginning the end of May or early June. MFBF will provide updated information when it is available.

American Farm Bureau Federation has produced a Market Intel report, including economic analysis and links to explain market responses to the pandemic and details of USDA's Food Assistance Program.  You can find the Market Intel via this link.

Commodity Purchase and Distribution

Details. In addition to direct relief payments, USDA will also partner with regional and local food distributors to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and meat. USDA is expected to spend about $100 million per month in each of the three categories, for a total of $3 billion in total purchases.