By Clint Thompson
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will bring much-needed relief to farmers impacted by COVID-19. Unfortunately, the funds allocated per farmer is not enough, says Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA) President Mike Joyner.
“Florida agriculture was just crushed by the pandemic. A lot of our members have had some really, really big losses. When that direct payment was first mentioned with that $250,000 cap, we were extremely disappointed. We are very appreciative that the cap has been raised,” Joyner said. “We’re grateful for the increase. But it still falls short because we did have members that lost millions. These are family farms.
“We still wish we could get a little bit more. We might try to do that as they begin to talk about a CARES (Act) 4 package. We’ll push to see if we can get that cap raised a little bit more and some more money into Florida.”
According to https://www.farmers.gov/cfap, CFAP provides vital 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. Many of the fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, watermelons and strawberries are covered under CFAP and were in production in Florida when the coronavirus struck in mid-March.
Much of the produce season for this year is completed in Florida, especially in the southern portion of the state. Many are already thinking about next season and need CFAP funds in place so they can proceed accordingly. Thankfully, CFAP payments are already being issued.
“We just hope they turn those checks around pretty quickly because these growers in south Florida are going to make decisions on inputs into July, first part of August.That’s when they’ll start ordering seed and fertilizer and all that kind of stuff,” Joyner said.