As part of the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that it will provide up to $2.1 billion in direct payments to specialty crops producers. The payments will be based on losses where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will help producers facing additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year as a result of COVID-19.
Producers that fall into one of the following categories may be eligible to receive a direct payment:
- Sales with a price loss of 5% or more between January 15 and April 15, 2020. Almonds, artichokes, beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, lemons, iceberg and Romaine lettuce, dry onions, peaches, pears, pecans, bell and other types of peppers, rhubarb, spinach, squash, strawberries and tomatoes are eligible.
- Shipments that left the farm by April 15 and spoiled due to no market or for which no payment was received. All specialty crops are eligible.
- Shipments that have not left farm or mature crops that remained unharvested by April 15. All specialty crops are eligible.
Beginning on May 26, 2020, producers of all eligible commodities may apply for assistance through their local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Center. Specialty crops producers are encouraged to complete the application forms ahead of the application date. Producers can locate their service center and find application forms and additional information at farmers.gov/cfap.
The payments are one of several measures USDA is taking to support America’s specialty crops industry which has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 national emergency. In addition to the direct payments, USDA has implemented the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, in which the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is partnering with national, regional and local suppliers to purchase fresh produce, dairy and meat products and have suppliers package these products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need. More information about the food box program is available at www.usda.gov/farmers-to-families .
USDA will also make an additional $873.3 million in Section 32 purchases of specialty crops products for distribution to food banks. The use of these additional Section 32 funds will be determined by industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis and food bank needs. The latest purchase solicitations are available at www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda-terms/solicitations.
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