Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP): Aid to Farmers Affected by COVID-19

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program is one of the biggest direct aid payments to be given to farmers. The relief package is very much needed in order to support farmers that have not taken a day off and continued to support their communities. But this new aid package has very significant flaws which, in our opinion, will likely underserve many producers in the Alliance circle and across the country. 

The following is the eligibility list, there are many crops that are left out of this list. 

  • Non-specialty crops: malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat
  • Wool
  • Livestock: cattle, hogs, and sheep (lambs and yearlings only), no poultry/eggs 
  • Dairy (milk)
  • Specialty crops: 
    • Fruits: apples, blueberries, cantaloupe, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, 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 and mushrooms

Just because you make the list does not necessarily qualify you to receive aid if you have been impacted by the virus. Benefits of the program are based on a producers scale, eligible crops, and price losses. For instance, to be eligible for a payment, a commodity must have experienced at least a 5 percent decline in price since January. 

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for a CFAP payment, a farmer must:

  • Complete a CFAP application form and provide any required documentation within 60 days of signing their application
  • Be a producer having a share in the eligible commodity between January 15 – April 15, 2020, or April 16 – May 14, 2020
  • Be either a: 
    • U.S. Citizen
    • Resident Alien providing land, capital, and active personal labor in the farming operation
    • Partnership of U.S. Citizens
    • Corporation, Limited Liability Company, or other organization recognized under State law
    • Indian Tribe or Tribal Organization
    • Foreign Person providing land, capital, and active personal labor in the farming operation
    • Foreign Entity that has more than 10 percent of its beneficial interest held by individuals that are not US Citizens or Lawful Aliens

Contract growers who do not own livestock but whose contract allows them to have risk in the livestock are also eligible for CFAP payments.

Privately owned aquaculture businesses growing freshwater and saltwater products in controlled environments, including raceways, ponds, tanks, and recirculating systems, extending to all farmed shrimp and salmonids (trout and salmon) are also eligible.

Federal, state, and local governments are prohibited from participating in CFAP. An individual or entity with an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of more than $900,000 – based on the average gross incomes for 2016, 2017, and 2018 tax years – is also ineligible unless they derive at least 75 percent of their income from farming, ranching, or forestry related activities, in which case there is no AGI restriction. There is no AGI limit for joint ventures or general partnerships. This AGI threshold is significantly less strict than in previous USDA support payment programs.

Do you qualify for CFAP?:

Before you apply, assess whether this is the right program to provide relief to your operation. 

  • Did you experience a loss in sales as a result of COVID-19?

If yes, you will need to have documentation to prove the 5% price loss from the first quarter of the year. Are you able to maintain this documentation over the next three years?

  • Assess your crops and livestock

Do you grow or produce livestock that is on the list of eligible items above? You will be required to enter production and sales information for each eligible crop and livestock separately, and provide (and maintain) documentation to verify your claims. 

  • Do you sell the majority of your products through direct marketing channels (i.e. farmers markets, restaurants, CSAs)? Do you produce any value-added products (i.e. organic, grassfed, pastured)?

If yes to either of these questions, you will likely only be eligible to receive compensation for a portion of your actual losses as CFAP payments are based on conventional (wholesale) commodity prices.

How do farmers apply?

For farmers that decide CFAP is a fit for their operations, they will be able to download the CFAP application and payment calculator from USDA’s CFAP website beginning on May 26th. Farmers can also call their local FSA office and request a paper application. After completing their application, farmers can submit it to any USDA Service Center by mail, e-mail, fax, or in-person. Farmers are encouraged to first call their FSA county office before sending applications electronically. 

To find your local FSA office, click here.

While technically producers can submit their applications anytime before August 28, funding is likely to go quickly – especially with the increased per farm payment limitations. Farmers who think they could benefit should apply as soon as possible.

When applying, farmers will need to complete the following forms:

  • CFAP Application – AD-3114 (automatically generated from the payment calculator)
  • Member Information – CCC-901*
  • Adjusted Gross Income – CCC-941*
  • Income from Farming – CCC-942*
  • Highly Erodible Land / Wetlands – AD-1026*
  • Customer Information – AD-2047*
  • Direct Deposit – SF-3881*

*Farmers who have already participated in any FSA or NRCS program or registered their farm with FSA will likely already have completed most of these forms.

To download fillable PDFs of any of these required forms, click here.

At this time, it is uncertain whether or not USDA will require a farm number. None of the forms listed above require this information, however USDA has stated that a farm number may not be needed immediately. For farmers who don’t have a farm number, and are interested in obtaining one, contact your local FSA office to do so.

Questions?

Contact Liz Rupel at lizrupel@ilstewards.org if you have any questions about the program or how to apply

CFAP Resources

FLAG legal services hotline: 877-860-4349