June 9, 2020

Specialty Crops Receive Less Than 2% of USDA COVID-19 Direct Payment Program

Of the $1.4 billion in relief checks already provided to more than 80,000 farmers and ranchers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, less than $25 million (less than 2%) has been allocated to specialty crop producers.

As part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to provide $16 billion in direct payments. As of June 8, the breakdown in assistance is as follows:

  • Livestock: $676 million
  • Non-Specialty Crops: $368 million
  • Dairy: $337 million
  • Specialty Crops: $25 million
  • Total: $1.4 billion

The weekly report provided by USDA shows that most of the payments have gone to Midwestern farmers. In Western Growers member states, specialty crop farmers have received:

  • California: $5.9 million
  • New Mexico: $1.5 million
  • Arizona: $700,000
  • Colorado: $0

Western Growers members are encouraged to explore the USDA direct payment program to determine eligibility.


CFAP provides financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.


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.

Eligible specialty crops include:

  • Fruits: apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, tomatoes, watermelons
  • Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, dry onions, green onions, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, taro
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts
  • Other: beans, mushrooms

Additional crops may be deemed eligible at a later date.

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. Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020.

USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible.