USDA Amends Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Rules to Expand Eligibility for Apple Producers
On July 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) announced amendments to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (“CFAP”) based on comments they received from agricultural producers and market data. For an overview of the CFAP program and eligibility requirements, please see our previous post here.
How did apple producer eligibility change?
Producers of apples (which are categorized as specialty crops for CFAP purposes) are now eligible for CFAP payments in all of the following three categories:
1. Crops that suffered a 5% or greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (“Category 1 Claims”);
2. Produce shipped but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channel (“Category 2 Claims”); and
3. Shipments that did not leave the farm or mature crops that remained unharvested (“Category 3 Claims”).
Originally, apple producers were not eligible to claim losses for price decline (i.e., Category 1 Claims), however, the USDA has since determined that apples suffered a 5% or greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and expanded their CFAP eligibility to include claims for price decline. Accordingly, eligible apple producers may seek recovery for all apple sales that occurred between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020, regardless of price or variety.
What are the current payment rates for apple producers?
Payment rates for apple producers depend on the category of claim. Category 1 Claims are eligible for a payment rate of $0.05/lb, Category 2 Claims are eligible for a payment rate of $0.22/lb, and Category 3 Claims are eligible for a payment rate of $1,500/acre. Please note that apples in inventory or in storage facilities that may be sold after April 15, 2020 are not eligible for CFAP.
What proof is needed to apply?
None. Producers submit their application without supporting documentation. However, they may be requested to provide supporting documentation once their application is being reviewed. For example, an apple producer applying for CFAP payment due to a price decline may be asked to support their claims with records such as bills of sale. Or an apple producer applying for CFAP payment due to crop shipments that left the farm but ultimately spoiled may be asked to provide supporting documentation such as an explanation of non-payment or other records validating non-payment.
How can eligible Agricultural Producers apply for CFAP?
The deadline to apply for payment by the CFAP is August 28, 2020. Producers may apply online, by manual application, or by completing the application form using an Excel workbook created by the USDA. Please visit https://www.farmers.gov/cfap for more information to apply.