COLUMBUS, Ohio—Good news for farmers dismayed by a drop in prices and demand for what they produce.
New federal payments will be issued to eligible farmers to help offset lower demand and prices for their produce, grain crops, milk, and livestock as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Producers of cattle, hogs, specialty crops, corn, soybeans, and other agricultural goods can apply for the payments through Aug. 28 at their local Farm Service Agency Center. The funding is related to losses farmers have experienced during the first six months of this year.
Market prices for agricultural commodities have plummeted as a result of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus infections among employees at major meat processing plants led to shutdowns at those plants and a backlog of market-ready livestock on the farm that could not be processed.
“This is not meant to fully compensate for all losses,” said Dianne Shoemaker, an associate professor at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) who specializes in dairy production economics.
“The full extent of the losses is very difficult to quantify, as there will be some very long-term impacts from these market disruptions.”
Depending on the amount of loss a farmer has experienced, he or she could qualify for up to $250,000 from this assistance program, which is double the typical U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) payment limit. A qualifying agricultural business owned by several people actively involved in the business could receive up to $750,000.
“This program will assist farmers in meeting cash-flow shortfalls,” Shoemaker said. “So it could be extremely helpful right now.”
To be eligible for these payments, the crop had to experience at least a 5% loss in the future price on the crop between the weeks of January 13–27 and April 6–9, 2020. A futures price for an agricultural product is the price that the product will be sold for at a later, agreed-upon date.
Eligible corn growers will earn 33.5 cents per bushel; eligible soybean growers, 47.5 cents per bushel.
What livestock owners receive in payments hinges on several factors including the type of animal, with different rates for each animal, as well as livestock sales between Jan. 15 and April 15 and the highest livestock inventory on any day between April 16 and May 14.
Farmers will receive 80% of their total payment when their application is approved. The remaining portion of the payment will be issued at a later date if funds are still available, according to a USDA press release.
Producers can download an application for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) as well as other eligibility forms and access an online payment calculator at farmers.gov/cfap.
Additionally, producers in search of one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak with a USDA employee for assistance.