CFAP 101 for Producers
Last Updated: February 19, 2021
Starting September 21, 2020, USDA’s Farm Service Agency is accepting applications through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) for direct aid (payments, not loans) to agricultural producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE AND WHO MAY BENEFIT?
- Many more farmers are eligible for payments under the new CFAP-2 program; however, producers should carefully review the USDA guidance before applying. USDA provides eligibility details in terms of eligible entities AND eligible commodities. Producers do NOT need a previous relationship with FSA (i.e. past program participation, FSA farm number) to begin the application process, but some payment options may require registering for a farm number.
HOW DOES CFAP WORK?
- CFAP-2 provides payments directly to farmers to compensate them for losses experienced between April 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020, when agricultural prices and markets were drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Farmers can apply online or download the forms and fill them out before returning them to their local FSA office. In order to calculate payments, producers will need to verify sales and inventory, but will not be required to submit this documentation to FSA along with their application. However, producers should keep this information on file, as FSA may require it at a later point. See “How to Apply” for additional details.
HOW ARE CFAP PAYMENTS CALCULATED?
- Nearly all crops and many types of livestock may be eligible for payment under CFAP-2, but unlike CFAP-1, different commodities are eligible for very different types of payments. Farmers may be eligible for up to three different types of payments under the new CFAP-2 program depending on what they grow and market. See both the CFAP website and NSAC’s blog for full crop-by-crop details, along with our payment summary below.
Payments are made using of 3 formulas, depending on products:
- Price Trigger Commodities: Commodity crops, many livestock species, poultry, eggs, and dairy are eligible for a payment based on the decline in the national wholesale price of their commodity similar to the CFAP-1 payment program. These prices DO NOT account for higher prices a producer might receive for an organic or other type of added-value product (e.g. grassfed beef) or for any premium they may earn from selling directly to customers.
- Flat-Rate Crops: Minor commodity crops (e.g. small grains) for which there is limited national pricing data are eligible for a $15/acre flat rate payment; and
- Sales Commodities: Producers of specialty crops, nursery crops, tobacco, some minor livestock species, and aquaculture may receive payments based on a producer’s revenue derived from those farm products in 2019. This is especially important for diversified growers, farmers who grow organic or otherwise higher valued farm products, and producers who sell directly to their customers. Payments based on their historic revenue, rather than wholesale price declines, should better reflect their real losses due to market disruptions.
USDA has provided a payment calculator for producers to use to estimate their potential payment. Find it here: https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/tool
PRODUCER CASE STUDIES
There are more case studies in development! Check back for additional examples of payment calculations for producers.
Case study #1: John the vegetable, flower, and beef farmer
John operates a diversified farm with 2019 sales of $130,000 in vegetables and $20,000 in cut flowers. He also owns 35 steers raised for beef. He would be eligible to receive $1,925 for his steers ($55 per head based on the price trigger commodity payment formula), and $15,100 for the combined sales of his vegetables and flowers (based on the sales commodity payment formula for his sales bracket, which is 9.7% of his reported income for these crops). He can submit one application for both payments, for a total payment of $17,025.
Case study #2: Briana the diversified vegetable farmer
Briana has a small-scale, diversified vegetable farm which sells at a farmers market and has a 50-member CSA. In 2019, her farm sold $28,000 of produce. As a specialty-crop producer, she applied to CFAP 2 for support under the “Sales Commodities” section. After some email communication with her local FSA office, including signing and emailing several more forms, Briana received a payment for $2,968, or 10.6% of her total eligible 2019 sales. This payment will help Briana cover the increased marketing costs of hand-packing half of her CSA shares every week for home delivery, which she did not do before the COVID-19 pandemic.
HOW TO APPLY
- Signup window: September 21, 2020 – December 11, 2020
- INITIAL APPLICATION STEPS:
- Important: Producers with questions or who need assistance can make an appointment with FSA to review their application before submitting it; producers can also call a national hotline (see below) with questions. While farmers are not required to book an appointment with FSA prior to submitting their app, they are encouraged to do so if they have any questions or are a new customer.
- STEP 1: Review the eligibility criteria to determine if you can and should apply. Use the USDA payment calculator tool to estimate your payment.
- STEP 2: If you have questions or would like to talk your application over before submitting it, either: call the producer hotline (see below) with questions or call your local FSA office for an appointment (even if you are not 100% sure you will apply). An FSA office locator is available at https://www.farmers.gov/service-center-locator
- STEP 3: Complete all forms and begin compiling necessary records.
- Reminder: supporting documentation is not required to apply, but may be requested by FSA later as part of a spot check verification. If supporting documentation is requested to verify the information specified on the application, the producer must provide records that substantiate the reported information. Supporting documentation that a producer may use to substantiate the acres, sales, inventory, or production reported, includes copies of receipts, ledgers of income, income statements of deposit slips, veterinarian records, register tapes, invoices for custom harvesting, and records to verify production costs, contemporaneous measurements, truck scale tickets, or contemporaneous diaries that are determined acceptable by USDA.
- STEP 4: Submit your application before December 11, 2020 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. Applications may be submitted via mail, fax, hand delivery, or via electronic means.
- For more information on the application process, please visit the CFAP 2 FAQ page
WHERE CAN I GET HELP?
- A USDA Farm Service Agency CFAP Call Center is available for producers who would like additional one-on-one support with the CFAP application process: 877-508-8364 (Select 1 for English and 2 to speak to a Spanish-speaking employee)
- Farm Aid hotline: 1-800-327-6243
- ATTRA hotline: 800-346-9140 (English), 800-411-3222 (Español)
- FLAG legal services hotline: 877-860-4349
- NSAC-Farm Aid Feedback Form: Did you experience issues accessing aid? We would like to learn more about farmers’ needs. Fill out this feedback form to share your input with us.