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Understanding the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

On March 24, 2021 the USDA announced updates to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program-2 (CFAP-2) with a reopened application period starting April 5. CFAP-2 provides direct relief payments to agricultural producers who faced market disruptions due to COVID-19. The reopening of CFAP-2 is part of a larger effort to ensure that all agricultural producers have an opportunity to access pandemic assistance funding. Agricultural producers who have not already applied for CFAP-2 can read below to learn how the program works and why they might want to apply for a direct payment. 

Still not sure if you should apply or need one-on-one help with the application? Email our Farmer Advocate, Craig Watts, at [email protected] to schedule a phone appointment to discuss if CFAP-2 is a good option for you. Or call us anytime through the RAFI-USA Farm Hotline at 866.586.6746. The USDA has also set up a CFAP Hotline, 877.508.8364 to offer further assistance.


Videos on Applying for CFAP-2

The following videos were last updated in November 2020. Some of the deadlines mentioned may no longer be correct but the information remains relevant.


CFAP-2 Basics

WHAT: CFAP-2 is a direct payment (not loan) program developed by USDA to distribute payments to agricultural producers impacted by market disruptions due to COVID-19. 

WHO: Active farmers with a share in the risk of producing an eligible commodity.

WHEN: Applications reopened April 5, 2021 and have no determined deadline at this time.

ELIGIBLE COMMODITIES: Almost all crops and livestock are eligible under CFAP-2 and apply to one of three payment calculations. A farmer may be eligible for three payments depending on what commodities they produce. Notable ineligible commodities include hay and crops intended for grazing (except alfalfa).

  • Price Trigger: Price trigger commodities are major commodities that meet a minimum five-percent price decline over a specified period of time. Price trigger commodities include: broilers and eggs, row crops (corn, soybeans, wheat, etc), cow’s dairy, and livestock.
  • Flat Rate Crops: This payment option is for farmers who grew a specific commodity crop where there is insufficient pricing data to demonstrate a decline in price (i.e. alfalfa, hemp, cotton, peanuts).
  • Sales Commodities: Sales commodities eligible for CFAP-2 include specialty crops (fruits and vegetables), aquaculture, nursery crops and floriculture, and other commodities not included in the price trigger and flat-rate payment categories. Payments are calculated based on 2019 sales revenue of the eligible commodities, as well as crop insurance indemnities, NAP, and WHIP+ payments in 2019, multiplied by the CFAP-2 payment rate (listed below).

Example: A producer’s 2019 sales of eligible commodities totaled $75,000. The payment is calculated as ($49,999 times 10.6%) plus ($25,001 times 9.9%) equaling a total payment of $7,775.

APPLICATION: Farmers may complete an online application or manually complete the application forms and return them to their local FSA office. Farmers new to FSA are encouraged to apply at their local office to ensure all documentation is collected. Visit the USDA CFAP website to apply online or download the application forms. Farmers will need certain production, inventory, or revenue records based on their commodity. 

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDES: CFAP-2 payment calculations still do not account for premium priced commodities (i.e. organic, grass-fed, direct-to-consumer price, or any value added to a raw product). There are also no set aside funds for small-scale farmers, local marketing farmers, or historically underserved farmers. However, FSA has committed at least $2 million to establish partnerships and direct outreach efforts intended to improve outreach for FSA programs, including CFAP 2, and will cooperate with grassroots organizations with strong connections to socially disadvantaged communities to ensure they are informed and aware of the application process.

BOTTOM LINE: CFAP-2 is a way for most farmers to receive pandemic assistance. FSA has made several important changes to make the program more accessible and the application process easier. Even for farmers that may not have seen dramatic impacts due to COVID-19 in 2020, payments from the CFAP-2 program could be used to help support your agricultural business to be more resilient in the event of future public health or natural disasters. 


The Nuts and Bolts of CFAP

For a more detailed look at CFAP-2, we recommend checking out some of the following resources created by USDA and our national partners.

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