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COVID-19 Relief Resources for Farmers

UPDATED 10.22.21

This webpage summarizes some of the currently available opportunities for farmers seeking pandemic relief. Some of the programs listed below also apply to farmers markets, food hubs, and other food system intermediaries. Current COVID relief is summarized in the Navigating COVID-19 Relief for Farmers guide. Producers are encouraged to call the RAFI-USA hotline toll-free at 866.586.6746 if they have additional questions or require further assistance.

USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers 

Where did this funding come from?

Since March 2020, there have been a series of federal funding pools made available to bolster existing disaster relief programs as well as create new programs in response to COVID-19. Pandemic Assistance for Producers is the USDA’s initiative dedicated to reaching a broad set of producers and agricultural businesses. The following is a summary of currently available or upcoming direct assistance programs for producers. More information about all the Pandemic Assistance for Producers programs can be found on the USDA’s website.


Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program

The Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program (PRS) was developed to support agricultural stakeholders who haven’t yet received substantial federal financial assistance to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The program helps small businesses in certain commodity areas including small specialty crop producers, food processors, aquaculture, manufacturers, distributors, and farmers markets. Grants range from $1,500-$20,000 for costs incurred for eligible activities. 

Resources:

Status: Open Now! The application period closes November 22, 2021.


COVID Disaster Set Aside

FSA borrowers located in designated disaster areas (or adjoining counties) who are unable to make a scheduled payment on USDA debt are eligible for the Disaster Set-Aside (DSA) program. DSA allows a scheduled payment (usually an annual payment) to be postponed, allowing the farm operation to continue. The set-aside payment must be repaid prior to the final maturity of the note. In 2020, DSA was extended to producers nationwide who were impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Farmers can contact their local FSA office to check their eligibility and to apply.

Resources: 

  • Review USDA’s fact sheet for more information about the Program
  • USDA Press Release – explaining extension of COVID DSA and availability of a second DSA for COVID-19 or natural disasters

Status: Open Now! First COVID-19 DSA installments available for FSA scheduled payments due on or before Jan. 31, 2022. Second COVID-19 or natural disaster DSA installments (for those who had an initial COVID-19 DSA) due by May 1, 2022.


Other COVID-19 Relief for Farmers 

USDA will develop a number of new programs or modify existing proposals using discretionary funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 and other coronavirus funding. These efforts include assistance for:

  • Dairy Donation Program (DDP) – program facilitates dairy product donations to reduce food waste. Eligible dairy organizations (such as dairy cooperatives) partner with non-profit feeding organizations to distribute food to individuals and families. No set deadline at this point.
  • Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program (PMVAP) – pandemic assistance payments to dairy farmers who received a lower value due to market abnormalities caused by the pandemic and ensuing Federal policies. USDA AMS will contact eligible handlers and cooperatives directly.
  • Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers (PATHH) – provides financial relief to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that experienced losses in 2020 due to COVID-19.The deadline to apply is October 15, 2021.
  • Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety (Seafood PRS) Block Grant Program – defrays expenses for seafood process facilities’ and processing vessels’ costs preparing for, preventing exposure, and responding to COVID-19.  Funding will be allocated as State grants.

BIPOC Debt Relief

The ARP authorizes $4 billion for payments of 120 percent of socially disadvantaged producers’ direct or guaranteed FSA farm loans and Commodity Credit Corporation Farm Storage Facility loans as of January 1, 2021. The American Rescue Plan Act uses the 2501 definition of socially disadvantaged, which includes Black/African American, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Hispanic or Latino, and Asian American or Pacific Islander. Farmers that believe they are eligible for debt relief should confirm their race/ethnicity designation on file with their local FSA office to ensure they’ll receive payment.

Resources:

Status: There are several active lawsuits related to this program and a temporary restraining order has been applied to USDA, limiting their ability to send payments to producers. The Farm Service Agency is still actively working to get payments ready for producers if the temporary restraining order is lifted.


Build Back Better Initiative

The USDA announced plans to invest more than $4 billion to strengthen critical supply chains through the Build Back Better initiative. The new effort will strengthen the food system, create new market opportunities, tackle the climate crisis, help communities that have been left behind, and support good-paying jobs throughout the supply chain.

Resources:

Status: In development, we’ll keep this section updated with new information.


Temporary Suspension of Debt Collection and Foreclosure

The USDA announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). 

Resources: Press Release

Status: In place until further notice, expected to continue while the national COVID-19 disaster declaration is in place.


Economic Injury Disaster Loan

This Small Business Administration loan provides economic relief to small businesses, agricultural businesses, and nonprofit organizations that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. SBA is currently accepting new loan applications. Visit their website for more information on eligibility, loan terms, and application process.

Resources: SBA website on EIDL

Status: Currently open!


Now Closed COVID-19 Relief Resources

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program-2 (CFAP-2)

CFAP is a direct payment (not a loan) program developed by USDA to distribute payments to agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19. A wide range of producers and commodity types are eligible for payment. Check out the USDA’s website for up-to-date information on eligibility and payment calculation. The payment amount depends on the type of commodity produced. For example, a diversified vegetable grower would receive a payment worth 9-10% of their total 2019 sales. A beef cattle producer would receive $55 per head based on their inventory in 2020. Recent changes to CFAP-2 allow contract producers of a wide range of poultry and hogs, including eligible breeding stock, to apply. Specialty crop producers may now use 2018 sales or indemnity payment data to calculate their CFAP-2 payment.

Resources:

Status: Application period closed October 12, 2021.


Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program

PLIP provides assistance to eligible livestock producers who suffered losses during the pandemic due to insufficient access to processing.  Payments are calculated as the costs of depopulation and disposal of animals in 2020, plus 80% of their fair market value. Farmers can contact their local FSA office to apply.

Resources: 

Status: Application period closed October 12, 2021.

We will provide more details about funding eligibility and application process in the coming weeks. Farmers are always encouraged to call the RAFI-USA farmer hotline at 866.586.6746 if they are experiencing farm financial crisis. Our farmer advocates are here to help.

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