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Ag Groups: USDA's CFAP Assistance Not Enough for Dairy
USAgNet - 05/20/2020

A pair of farm groups say the USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, is a great first step to helping producers who are struggling financially this year. U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the agency will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America's farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

But in a press release on Tuesday, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative President John Rettler said his organization would like to see additional funding to help dairy farmers specifically.

"We commend the USDA for making these plans as direct payments to producers as well as receiving 80 percent of the funds within a week of signing up for the program," Rettler said. "[But] we strongly encourage the USDA to consider additional funding support for dairy farmers, as the industry as a whole has experienced a delayed affect on feeling the impact of the pandemic on dairy market prices. Quite frankly, the USDA's current plan to pay only 30 percent of dairy's projected losses since April 15 falls far too short of the support that dairy farmers need to stay in business, considering that much of dairy's losses will be reflected in milk checks paid after April 15."

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative and Dairy Business Association explained that the program will be capped at $250,000 per individual or legal entity.

"We are pleased that USDA heeded calls for higher payments, which will make more dairy farmers eligible for assistance closer to their actual losses," the groups said in a joint state went. "Still, there is more work to be done to ensure that all farms are treated equitably. It is vital that our dairy farmers, no matter the size of their businesses, be made as close to whole as possible and as soon as possible. The payment program will no doubt help but not completely, and we will work further with Congress and the administration on filling the remaining gaps so dairy farmers have all the resources possible to repair the damage done by COVID-19."

For dairy, the total payment will be calculated based on a producer's certification of milk production. The first quarter of calendar year 2020 will be multiplied by a national price decline during the same quarter. The second part of the payment is based on a national adjustment to each producer's production in the first quarter.

The program will be administered through the USDA Farm Service Agency.

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