Farm groups ask for CFAP application deadline extension
The American Farm Bureau Federation and 27 other agriculture organizations on Friday asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to extend the application deadline for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) beyond August 28.
The 499,156 applications received represent only 24% of all farm operations, the farm groups said
Producers of several commodities have extremely low participation rates, they noted, including carrots at 1%, oranges at 2%, tomatoes at 6% and apples at 10%. Those numbers may indicate many farmers are not aware they qualify for CFAP assistance, they said.
“We write today to express our concern that the August 28 CFAP deadline may exclude eligible producers from participating in the program — including producers of commodities that were recently added to the list of eligible commodities and commodities that are likely to become eligible through the NOFA process,” the letter said.
“To ensure all eligible producers receive CFAP support, the undersigned organizations respectfully request the department extend the sign-up deadline for CFAP,” it added.
“We also encourage the department to announce second tranche payments and further review CFAP eligibility criteria including sales dates, second tranche payment rates and market contract eligibility, such as the definition of price risk and the inconsistency between interpretation of livestock sales, dairy sales and crop sales with respect to the use of futures or forward contracts,” the letter said.
The groups said that the lack of face-to-face interactions between local Farm Service Agency employees and farmers due to the coronavirus pandemic and the eligibility of producers not previously eligible for aid have probably contributed to the low level of applications.
Reacting to speculation that the farmers and ranchers don’t need the money, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a news release, “The fact that there is still money available should not lead anyone to believe that the needs of America’s farmers have all been met.”
“Farmers and ranchers are still struggling to make ends meet and the pandemic is far from over. We need to increase awareness and that means USDA turning it up a notch, along with ag groups. We’re certainly working to ensure those eligible know the aid is available.”
–The Hagstrom Report
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