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Feds Extend COVID-Related Financial Assistance

USDA extended a financial assistance program designed to help those in the almond industry and other ag producers nationally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and other market disruptions.

10/14/2020

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Almond growers and handlers who face continued market disruptions and increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to apply for a federal program intended to provide financial relief.

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 2, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides a second round of payments to agricultural producers and replaces CFAP 1, which began in late May and ended Sept. 11, 2020. In an effort to support more U.S. farmers and ranchers, USDA launched CFAP 2 and set the deadline for Friday, Dec. 11.

The Almond Board of California (ABC), the Almond Alliance of California and USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), who oversees CFAP implementation, held a
webinar on Oct. 5 to explain how almond growers, specifically, may apply for CFAP 2 funding and to address growers’ questions.

“With growers under pressure given the ongoing challenges due to COVID-19 and the broader trade environment, we welcomed the rollout of CFAP 2 to assist them," said Julie Adams, ABC’s Vice President of Global Technical and Regulatory Affairs.

Since January, issues caused by COVID-19 have compounded pre-existing trade complications, underscoring the need for CFAP.

“The program is not intended to make you whole, but to help you moving forward and remove some of the hurt,” Elaine Trevino, president of the Almond Alliance, told growers during the webinar.


Eligibility

To be eligible, growers must have an adjusted gross income of less than $900,000 (average of 2016, 2017 and 2018) unless 75% of that income is derived from farming or ranching.

Growers who are already registered with FSA will not have to resubmit eligibility information. They will, however, have to provide self-certified data on their orchards and be prepared to show documentation such as taxes, Schedule 4 forms, sales receipts, logs and diaries, if requested.

Payment structure

CFAP 2 payments are based on any payments received by growers in 2019; the crop years covered by the payments do not matter. Reimbursement rates vary from 10.6% to 8.8%. The highest percentage goes to the first $49,999 in sales with declining percentages from there. Many growers will have sales that fall into multiple rate categories. In most cases, CFAP 2 payments to a single grower will be limited to $250,000, according to FSA program specialist Sandra Becker.

To complete the CFAP 2 application, growers will need to reference their sales, inventory and other records. However, since CFAP 2 is a self-certification program, this documentation will not need to be submitted with the application. Still, producers should retain the records and documentation they use to complete the application in the event that they are asked to provide justification for their self-certification. Further information on documentation is available on the CFAP website
.

One important difference between CFAP 1 and CFAP 2 is with the second round of this program, growers who farm specialty crops in addition to almonds must list all crop income on one CFAP 2 application – with CFAP 1, separate applications were required for each crop.

Connie Conway, the FSA state director in California, expects CFAP 2 to be “smoother and more effective” than the first round of payments.

“We are happy to help facilitate this program for the agriculture industry,” she told participants during the webinar. “We need to keep all of you involved in the agricultural industry busy and productive.”

Adams added, “FSA has been extremely helpful in its efforts to provide growers with information and encourage their participation.”

For more information on CFAP 2, visit ABC’s COVID-19 Resources for Almond Growers webpage
or www.almondalliance.org. The Almond Board also created a fact sheet that explains CFAP 2 and addresses many common questions posed by industry members.

At the conclusion of CFAP 1, California almond growers received more than $108.7 million in funding based on the eligible payment period. Across all commodities, California farmers and ranchers received more than $662.4 million, an amount that trailed only Iowa and Nebraska. Nationally, more than $10.2 billion was paid out to U.S. farmers.