Additional pandemic aid is available for US farmers

The USDA is earmarking additional aid to farmers and ag businesses as part of its Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative.
calendar icon 18 June 2021
clock icon 5 minute read

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced additional aid to agricultural producers and businesses as part of the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.

Earlier this year, Secretary Vilsack announced plans to use available pandemic assistance funds to address a number of gaps and disparities in previous rounds of aid. As part of the Pandemic Assistance initiative announced in March, USDA pledged to continue Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments and to provide aid to producers and businesses left behind. Implementation of the assistance announced this week will continue within 60 days to include support to timber harvesters, biofuels, dairy farmers and processors, livestock farmers and contract growers of poultry, assistance for organic cost share, and grants for PPE.

“USDA is honoring its commitment to get financial assistance to producers and critical agricultural businesses, especially those left out or underserved by previous COVID aid,” said Secretary Vilsack.

“These investments through USDA Pandemic Assistance will help our food, agriculture and forestry sectors get back on track and plan for the future. Since January, USDA has provided more than $11 billion of assistance directly to producers and food and agriculture business.”

How will Pandemic Assistance for Producers work?

In March, USDA announced $6 billion (see Part 1) in available funds through Pandemic Assistance to support a number of new programs or to modify existing efforts. The following programming is planned for implementation within 60 days, which will continue to be focused on filling gaps in previous rounds of assistance and helping beginning, socially disadvantaged and small and medium sized producers that need support most:

  • $200 million: Small, family-owned timber harvesting and hauling businesses
  • $700 million: Biofuels producers
  • Support for dairy farmers and processors:
    • $400 million: The new Dairy Donation Program to address food insecurity and mitigate food waste and loss
    • Additional pandemic payments targeted to dairy farmers that have demonstrated losses that have not been covered by previous pandemic assistance
    • Approximately $580 million: Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage for small and medium farms
  • Assistance for poultry and livestock producers left out of previous rounds of pandemic assistance:
    • Contract growers of poultry
    • Livestock and poultry producers forced to euthanize animals during the pandemic (March 1, 2020 through December 26, 2020)
  • $700 million: Pandemic Response and Safety Grants for PPE and other protective measures to help specialty crop growers, meat packers and processors, seafood industry workers, among others
  • Up to $20 million: Additional organic cost share assistance, including for producers who are transitioning to organic

“We have more work to do to build back a better food system, strengthen our supply chains, and make sure American agriculture gives our farming and ranching families every opportunity to earn a good living,” said Secretary Vilsack. “As the economy continues to bounce back, USDA will ensure American agriculture is ready to seize the moment.”

National Farmers Union welcomes new pandemic support

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

“As more and more Americans get vaccinated, things are slowly returning to normal – but many businesses, including farms and ranches, are still feeling the lingering financial impacts of the pandemic. Throughout this crisis, we’ve appreciated USDA’s efforts to offer family farmers the help they’ve needed to stay solvent despite market and supply chain disruptions; the additional support announced today, along with last week’s news about the Build Back Better plan, will help offset any remaining losses and begin to lay down the foundation for a more secure, competitive, and resilient food system.”

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