USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on Friday, April 17 the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new USDA program will take several actions to assist farmers and ranchers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency, including $16 billion of direct payments and $3 billion in food purchases, Feedstuffs reports. Checks could be in the mail by the end of May once USDA promulgates and finalizes a rule, Perdue said.
“We appreciate Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s announcement that the agency will soon distribute funding to the cattlemen and cattlewomen who desperately need help during this national emergency,” said NCBA President Marty Smith. “We applaud USDA’s work to quickly craft a plan to distribute the funds to those who need it most and we look forward to learning more about that plan very soon.”
America’s cattle producers are facing unprecedented crisis after two market-disruptions in less than a year and this funding will provide the certainty needed to move forward with their work, Smith said.
“Earlier this week, a study commissioned by NCBA estimated that cow-calf producers stand to lose $8.1 billion as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, while the stocker/backgrounder sector losses will reach $2.5 billion and feedlot losses will total $3.0 billion as a result of the virus that is ravaging the American economy. Total industry losses are expected to reach $13.6 billion.
“While the relief funds that have been allocated to USDA by Congress represent a start to stabilizing the industry, there is much more work to be done to protect the cattle producers who are an essential component of the agriculture industry and the anchor for rural America.”
According to Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, “We’re grateful to President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for working together to come to the aid of America’s farmers and ranchers. The coronavirus pandemic forced the closing of restaurants, schools and college cafeterias, causing commodity prices to fall off a cliff and serious disruptions to food supply chains. This $16 billion in aid will help keep food on Americans’ tables by providing a lifeline to farm families that were already hit by trade wars and severe weather.
“The plan to purchase $3 billion in meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables will help to stabilize markets and keep farms afloat so they can go about the business of feeding America. Farmers and ranchers proudly accept the responsibility of feeding this nation and it’s heartbreaking to be forced to dispose of milk and plow under crops of fresh food at a time when others are going hungry. We also appreciate the additional funding from other sources to help deliver food from farms to food banks.”