May 21, 2020

USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Direct Payments FAQs

Farmers will be able to apply for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) direct payments beginning May 26, 2020. Producers of all eligible commodities may apply for assistance through their local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Center. Specialty crop producers are encouraged to complete the application forms ahead of the application date. Producers can locate their service center and find application forms and additional information at

To further assist our members, WG has prepared a handy set of Frequently Asked Questions, which can be found below and on the WG COVID-19 Resources Page

USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Direct Payments

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated August 20, 2020

Q:        What is the timeframe for eligible losses?

A:         Losses must have occurred between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020.

Q:        Who can apply?

A:         Producers (person or legal entity) of specified crops who have suffered a 5% or greater price decline as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and/or who face substantial marketing costs for inventories. Packers, processors or shippers without a growing operation are not eligible.

Q:        Is there an adjusted gross income (AGI) limit?

A:         YES. Any person or legal entity with an AGI of more than $900,000 is ineligible UNLESS 75% of the income comes from farming, ranching, or forestry.

Q:        What crops are eligible?

A:         An eligible crop must have been produced in the United States or its territories and suffered a 5% or greater sales price loss due to COVID-19 between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020. Click here for the full list of eligible specialty crops.

It is important to note that USDA has continued to add crops to the eligibility list since the program’s initial rollout in May. We recommend reviewing the list to see whether previously ineligible crops are now eligible, should an already submitted or approved application need to be updated to include more crops your operation produces but suffered losses on.

Q:        What types of losses are covered?

A:         There are three types of January 15-April 15 losses that are covered:

  • Crops that left the farm and were sold, but experienced a 5%-or-greater price decline;
  • Crops that left the farm but were unsold and spoiled due to loss of markets; and
  • Crops that did not leave the farm or were unharvested due to loss of markets.

Q:         Is there a payment limit?

A:         YES. The maximum payment is $250,000 per person. For corporations, LLCs, and limited partnerships, a maximum of three shareholders can apply and receive a payment, thus imposing a maximum limit of $750,000 on such operations.

Q:        My operation is a corporation/LLC/limited partnership. Are there eligibility requirements for corporate shareholders?

A        YES. Each shareholder must have actively participated in the farm, which entails at least 400 hours of active personal labor or management with respect to the operation of the corporate entity.

Q:       My operation is structured as an S-corporation, with shareholders receiving wages or dividends as a form of profit. Do these qualify as sources of income for AGI calculations?

A:         YES. Historically, wages and dividends do not count as income for the purpose of determining AGI for USDA assistance programs. As such, S-corps have not been eligible for CFAP at all to date. Western Growers recognized the problem and pressed USDA to make necessary changes to allow for more farmers to qualify.

As a result of these efforts, FSA recently published a notice that will allow for both wages and dividends to count, provided that an authorized representative (either a certified public accountant or attorney) certifies that the operation is affirmatively a farming operation.

Please review the FSA notice for full details.

Q:        What other requirements should I be aware of?

A:         By accepting the funds your operation must comply with USDA conservation compliance requirements. Click here for more details.

Q:        How do I start applying?

A:         The application period is from May 26 to September 11, 2020. You must contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to start and work through the process. Click here to locate your local FSA office, and please note that you must schedule by phone appointment only.

Q:        I’ve been approved for a CFAP payment. When can I expect it to arrive?

A:         Payments are tentatively expected to be issued within 7-10 days of when the application is received.

It is important to note that producers who newly apply for CFAP going forward will receive 100% of their total calculated payment (not to exceed the payment limit) when their applications are approved. For already-approved applicants that received, or will soon receive, their initial 80% payment (as per earlier USDA rules), FSA will automatically approve and issue the remaining 20% that was withheld.

For additional questions regarding the application process and necessary documentation, please contact your local FSA office.

For questions about the USDA announcement, other USDA programs, or other WG COVID-19 resources, please contact Dennis Nuxoll ([email protected]) or Tracey Chow ([email protected]).