USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that USDA is establishing new programs and efforts to bring financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and producers impacted by COVID-19 market disruptions. With at least $6 billion dedicated toward the new initiative, the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers will reach a broader set of producers than in previous COVID-19 aid programs.
Notably, USDA will dedicate at least $6 billion to develop new programs or modify existing proposals. Among other items, these efforts will include assistance for:
- Specialty crops, beginning farmers, local, urban and organic farms;
- Costs for organic certification or to continue or add conservation activities;
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other protective measures for food and farm workers and specialty crop producers, processors and distributors;
- Developing infrastructure to support donation and distribution of perishable commodities, including food donation and distribution through farm-to-school, restaurants, or other community organizations; and
- Reducing food waste.
Additionally, USDA expects to begin investing approximately $500 million in expedited assistance through several existing programs this spring, including $100 million in additional funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which enhances the competitiveness of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops.
Of final note, USDA will reopen sign-up for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning on April 5, 2021; the payments will go out under the existing CFAP rules.
Visit www.farmers.gov for more information on the details of the USDA Pandemic Assistance Program for Producers.