WASHINGTON, DC, US — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlined its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which will provide relief to US producers who faced price declines and other costs due to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the National Wheat Growers Association (NAWG) urges for further coverage and assistance.

CFAP will provide financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a 5% or greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and face additional significant market costs. The program includes $19 billion in direct payments to producers.

The assistance does not apply all wheat classes and NAWG urges the USDA to consider the others. Hard red winter, soft red winter, and white wheat are not currently included in the program.

“We want to thank USDA for its work to quickly put CFAP in place and for allowing certain classes of wheat to be eligible under the program,” said Dave Milligan, president of NAWG. “However, it is unfortunate that the program fails to take into consideration all six classes of wheat. USDA’s methodology behind CFAP neglects to incorporate price drops during the January to April timeframe when wheat farmers were marketing their crop or that local cash prices that farmers were receiving were less than futures prices in many areas of the country. As a result, most wheat growers won’t qualify for CFAP despite being impacted.”

On April 17, the USDA announced the CFAP, and in response NAWG submitted a letter demonstrating how the May contract on all three exchanges saw substantial price drops and partial recoveries during the January–April time period.

“It is clear that all wheat producers experienced substantial price losses during the designated timeframe and should be eligible for assistance under CFAP,” Milligan said. “Wheat farmers continue to produce a high-quality crop but disruption in the supply chain, as a result of COVID-19, has negatively affected wheat farmers. The coronavirus pandemic is already impacting the wheat market and prices continue to drop even before the implementation of CFAP.”

The USDA will consider additional crops to be eligible for CFAP by collecting information on potentially eligible crops.

CFAP will use funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and other USDA existing authorities.

Through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), producers can apply for assistance beginning on May 26.

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