October 6, 2021
With the cooler fall weather, farmers all across the country are finally beginning to slow down and prepare for the end of this year’s farming season. With the second harvest amidst a global pandemic shortly coming to a close, many farmers will be taking stock over the next few months of how their operations and sales fared in the wake of so much uncertainty over the past year and a half.
NSAC and our allies have been working to ensure that farmers receive support during this difficult time, and that no farmer is left out of any COVID-19 relief funding.
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) cornerstone COVID-19 relief programs, and to date has provided $18 billion in direct support to farmers impacted by the pandemic.
With less than a week to go before the CFAP-2 application period closes for good on October 12th, we’re sharing a few helpful reminders and resources for farmers and service providers to ensure no farmer is left out from receiving this critical aid.
The broad purpose of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program is to compensate farmers who faced market disruptions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. USDA initially announced the creation of CFAP in the spring of 2020, but earlier funding rounds proved unworkable for most small-scale, diverse, and value-added producers (e.g. organic, local, grass-fed) and did not fully reach farmers of color and other underserved farmer communities. In the waning days of the previous Administration, sorely needed changes were made with the launch of CFAP-2 in September 2020 to address access issues. The Biden Administration reopened CFAP-2 in April 2021, made modifications to some elements of the program, and extended the deadline for applications to Tuesday October 12, 2021.
Key Changes to Expand Program Eligibility
In an effort to make the program more accessible to more farmers, USDA solicited input from farmers and stakeholders that were underserved by previous aid programs, and integrated important changes into existing USDA relief programs.
Key CFAP-2 changes include:
Applications that were previously submitted can be revised and resubmitted by the October 12 deadline. To revise a previous application, farmers should contact your local FSA office.
How to Apply
Farmers who are interested in applying for CFAP-2 should first review the eligibility criteria to determine if you can and should apply. If you have questions or would like to talk your application over before submitting it, either: call the producer hotline at (877) 508-8364 or your local FSA office for an appointment (even if you are not 100% sure you will apply).
Next, make sure to complete all forms and begin compiling necessary records for your application. Supporting documentation is not required to apply, but may be requested by FSA later as part of a spot check verification.
Finally, farmers can submit your application through your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) at your USDA Service Center or online. FSA staff at your local USDA Service Center will work with producers to file applications. If you have an existing application, you can modify it by contacting your local USDA Service Center.
For more information on the application process, please visit the CFAP 2 FAQ page.
Last week, Farmers’ Legal Action Group (FLAG) — a nonprofit law center that provides legal services to family farmers — published an updated resource focused on changes in eligibility around the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2. FLAG’s most recent guide — a Farmers’ Guide to Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP), 3rd edition — focuses on recent changes to CFAP 2 introduced by the 2021 Appropriations Act. Additional guides related to COVID-19 relief for farmers are available at this link.
NSAC and FLAG also hosted a webinar recap for service providers and organizations who serve farmers on COVID-19 aid programs, including CFAP-2, which is available online.
For a higher level glance at COVID-19 resources, see the recently published 6-page COVID-19 aid overview published by NSAC in partnership with Farm Aid, FLAG, Intertribal Agriculture Council, and RAFI-USA.