USDA Extends Deadline for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

USDA Extends Deadline for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the deadline for farmers | Learn more on Commonshare | to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) | https://www.agweb.com/article/usda-extends-cfap-deadline-adds-dozens-specialty-crops | to September 11th, and has also added dozens of new crops to the list of those eligible for the program.
In all, the program accounts for $16 billion worth of funding.
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Eligible Specialty Crops 
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The USDA’s eligibility list now includes a variety of specialty crops. These include bananas, bok choy, star fruit, cherimoyas, dates, red dragon fruit, leeks, mesculin mix, microgreens, nectarines, pomegranates, tangelos, turnips, and numerous fresh herbs. 
The Department has also added seven commodities, including green onions, pistachios, walnuts, and watermelons, to funds for sales losses.
In the USDA’s news release | https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/specialty |, the Department explains that payments will be available for “eligible specialty crops that experienced immediate losses, a price decline, spoiled, were unpaid, or were unharvested due to market conditions between January 15, 2020, and April 15, 2020.”
However, payments will not be made for “Specialty crops in inventory or in storage facilities that may be sold after April 15, 2020.”
To date, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), responsible for handling the program, has paid out 80% of the payments that have been approved. The FSA is now paying out the remaining 20%, and new applicants are expected to promptly receive 100% of the funds they are eligible for. 
The amounts growers are eligible for are capped at $250,000 for individual growers and $750,000 for corporations with three eligible partners.
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Supporting American Growers
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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said that the program shows that U.S. President Donald Trump is supportive of American farmers and ranchers.
In his words: “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.”
However, the changes come days after Democrats on a House Agriculture subcommittee requested the USDA to provide support for specialty crop growers, particularly the young and those that are socially disadvantaged. 
The changes also come after several dozen agricultural groups, including a dozen fruit and vegetable grower groups, sent a letter to Perdue requesting the extension to the deadline and more outreach. They also requested a removal of the payment caps. 
The USDA says that 1,740 comments made through June 22nd provided input about which commodities should be included in the program. 

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