Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Still Has Flaws, Orgs. Say

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) published a blog post on Wednesday analyzing the effectiveness of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program known as CFAP 2. The organization said that CFAP 2 is “working much better and reaching more farmers than the first round of aid.” 

The post reported that although 651,099 farmers received aid from the first CFAP, “it was widely acknowledged that the primary beneficiaries were cattle producers.” An analysis performed by the Environmental Working Group had similar results, showing that the top one percent of farms received the most from CFAP. CFAP 2 reportedly improved this, changing payment options to flat rate which pays $15 per acre and a sales commodity option. NSAC reported that the flat rate option allowed small grain and oilseed producers to get funds when they couldn’t through CFAP. The sales commodity option, for producers of specialty crops, allowed farmers to receive payments based on their revenue in 2019, and was reportedly important for organic farmers. 

Although NSAC said that there was “progress” between the first CFAP and CFAP 2, they noted that there are still problems with the program.  NSAC said that it encountered questions about the program’s administration and structure when running webinars and developing materials, and that it worked with the USDA to get answers to some questions from farmers. 

The post said that things that could provide more help in a future coronavirus package would include conducting an analysis of farmers who received aid during the other two programs to ensure the new program is “administered equitably” and cover any bias in the previous program, make contract producers eligible for CFAP payments, open payments for sales commodities to any who grow premium products, increase payment rates to compensate farmers costs to adapt to coronavirus marketing, and have grater training and resources for farmers to ensure all eligible farmers are able to apply for the program. 

NSAC said that it “remains committed to ensuring that any future coronavirus response supports farmers, farmworkers, food system workers, and all who rely on them for healthy, safe, nutritious food and that it align with the long term goal of creating a more just, equitable, and sustainable food system.”  Applications for CFAP 2 close on December 11.