The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Tuesday that more commodities are now eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). According to a press release, these changes were made “in response to public comments and data,” and will allow more farmers and ranchers to access assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“President Trump is standing with America’s farmers and ranchers to ensure they get through this pandemic and continue to produce enough food and fiber to feed America and the world. That is why he authorized this $16 billion of direct support in the CFAP program and today we are pleased to add additional commodities eligible to receive much needed assistance,” said Secretary of Agriculture Secretary Perdue. He said the program is one of many available to help producers, citing loan deferrals and added flexibilities in crop insurance and reporting.
The commodities added in Tuesday’s announcement include liquid and frozen eggs, all sheep, and various fish including catfish, salmon, tilapia, and trout. Previously only sheep less than two years old were eligible for aid.
Aid was requested for liquid egg producers by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Senators, and Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture in early June. They explained that 70 percent of Iowa’s egg production is in liquid eggs which are sold to schools and restaurants. Demand for eggs in a liquid form significantly decreased as many businesses and schools shut down at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specialty crops added to the program include “aloe leaves, bananas, batatas, bok choy, carambola (star fruit), cherimoya, chervil (french parsley), citron, curry leaves, daikon, dates, dill, donqua (winter melon), dragon fruit (red pitaya), endive, escarole, filberts, frisee, horseradish, kohlrabi, kumquats, leeks, mamey sapote, maple sap (for maple syrup), mesculin mix, microgreens, nectarines, parsley, persimmons, plantains, pomegranates, pummelos, pumpkins, rutabagas, shallots, tangelos, turnips/celeriac, turmeric, upland/winter cress, water cress, yautia/malanga, and yuca/cassava.” The announcement also said that nursery crops and cut flowers are now included in the CFAP.
The USDA also extended the deadline for producers to apply for aid through September 11. Producers whose applications are approved have previously received 80 percent of their payment to ensure that enough funding is available, but future producers will receive the full amount.
The department also added additional items to the CFAP in a July press release, but have not addressed requests sent on behalf of some producers which asked to be included in letters to the USDA, including hemp producers.