This week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is stepping up their assistance to farmers and producers.
The new initiatives will combine new and existing programs under USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers. It is designed to reach a broader set of farmers than in previous COVID-19 aid programs and the department is dedicating $6 billion towards the new programs.
The USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers program is a department-wide effort to better align USDA’s resources, programs and research to provide farmers with the tools they need to be successful. As the number of COVID relief packages has increased, so has the number of programs USDA is being asked to administer.
The tangled web of overlapping programs and regulations have become a labyrinth for farmers to navigate. The hope is that the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers with realign those smaller programs under a single umbrella plan.
The first step in retargeting existing programs, USDA will re-open sign-up of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) for at least 60 days beginning on April 5.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has committed at least $2.5 million to improve outreach for CFAP 2 and will establish partnerships with organizations with strong connections to farmers to ensure they are informed and aware of the application process.
After re-evaluating previous programs, USDA identified gaps in funding and will look to renew their focus on small and medium farms. $6 billion in appropriations means USDA will have the needed funding to develop new programs or modify existing proposals using remaining discretionary funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
Some of the programs slated for assistance include:
- Dairy farmers through the Dairy Donation Program.
- Euthanized livestock and poultry.
- Timber harvesting.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other protective measures for food and farm workers and specialty crops and seafood processors and distributors.
USDA also is investing $500 million in assistance through several existing programs by April 30. A couple of those programs include the specialty crop block grant program and local agricultural marketing program.
This is an expansive announcement that covers a multitude of programs, many of which affect Wisconsin’s diverse set of producers.
USDA is expecting to provide greater details in the coming days and weeks but it is important to check with your local FSA office and lender for changes that could affect programs your currently enrolled in.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau, along with American Farm Bureau, will continue to work to keep you updated as changes merit.
Tyler Wenzlaff serves as Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s director of governmental relations focusing on national affairs.
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