USDA to Deliver $16B in Direct Assistance to Farmers & Ranchers

Apply now for the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Plan if you’re a farmer who has suffered a 5 percent or greater price decline due to COVID-19. (Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels)

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing immediate financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to partially offset COVID-19 related losses for livestock and specialty and non-specialty crops.

On May 19, USDA unveiled the details of the $16 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Plan (CFAP). Applications open May 26, 2020, and close August 28, 2020.

Janie Sims Hipp, the Chickasaw CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund, suggests speaking with your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to prepare your application now.

“America’s farming community is facing an unprecedented situation as our nation tackles the coronavirus. President Trump has authorized USDA to ensure our patriotic farmers, ranchers, and producers are supported and we are moving quickly to open applications to get payments out the door and into the pockets of farmers,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a news release. “These payments will help keep farmers afloat while market demand returns as our nation reopens and recovers. America’s farmers are resilient and will get through this challenge just like they always do with faith, hard work, and determination.”

Producers who have suffered a 5 percent or greater price decline due to COVID-19 as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of various agriculture products will be eligible to apply. There is a $250,000 funding cap per producer for all products combined. Producers can expect to receive their payment within a week of enrollment.

Payments will be made in two phases; 80 percent of the producer’s maximum total payment will be made upon approval of their application. The remaining 20 percent will be paid out at an unannounced later date as funds remain available.

The Inter-Tribal Agriculture Council’s Technical Assistance Program is a great resource for assisting producers with these applications.

Apply now for the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Plan if you’re a farmer who has suffered a 5 percent or greater price decline due to COVID-19. (Courtesy University of Minnesota Extension)

Eligible Crops & Product 

A full list of eligible crops and products can be found on the CFAP page

Non-Specialty Crops: malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat, and wool.

  • Producers are to be paid based on the amount of inventory that was subject to price risk the producer had as of January 15, 2020.
  • Total payment amount will be made based on 50 percent of a producer’s 2019 production OR the 2019 inventory as of January 15, 2020, whichever is smaller, multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates.

Livestock: cattle, lambs, yearlings and hogs.

  • Total payment will be calculated using two parts: 
    • The sum of the producer’s livestock sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020, multiplied by the payment rate per head.
    • The highest inventory number of livestock between April 16 and May 14, 2020, multiplied by the payment rate per head.

Specialty Crops: include, but are not limited to, almonds, beans, broccoli, sweet corn, lemons, iceberg lettuce, spinach, squash, strawberries and tomatoes.

  • Total payment will be calculated using three parts: 
    • Volume of production sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020 
    • Volume of production shipped but unpaid
    • Total number of acres for which harvested production did not leave the farm or mature product destroyed or not harvested during that same time period, which have not or will not be sold.


Total payment will be calculated using two parts:

  • A producer’s certification of milk produced for the first quarter of a calendar year of 2020, multiplied by the national price decline during the same quarter.
  • Second part of the payment is based on a national adjustment to each producer’s production in the first quarter.

Funding Sources

USDA has a total of $16 billion to provide direct payments for producers through this program. This funding support comes from two possible funding sources.

  • The first source of funding comes from $9.5 billion appropriated from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act. These funds can be used to compensate producers for losses that occurred between mid-January 2020 through mid-April 2020. This pool compensates producers who experienced losses due to:
    • General losses due to price declines
    • Specialty crops that had been shipped, but then spoiled due to a loss of marketing channels
  • The second source comes from $6.5 billion appropriated by the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter (CCCC) Act. This pool compensates producers who experienced losses due to:
    • On-going market disruptions 

Find your local Farm Service Agency, by visiting this USDA website. More information on getting started can also be found at

Farmers to Families Food Box

In addition to the direct funding to producers, USDA will be partnering with regional and local distributors in the Farmers to Families Food Box program to purchase up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products.

The program will purchase $461 million in fresh fruits and vegetables, $317 million in a variety of dairy products, $258 million in meat products and $175 million in a combination box of fresh produce, dairy or meat products. Suppliers will package these products totaling $1.2 billion into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need from May 15 through June 30, 2020.

Interested applicants can visit USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program’s website for more information and to locate the nearest USDA Farm Service Agency office. All applications will be administered by FSA.