The recent revisions to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) was a step in the right direction in the United States Department of Agriculture expanding the scope of what commodities are covered. But it also may lead to a shortage in funds being in place for producers, according to Adam Rabinowitz,
“I think it’s going to be challenging for there to be enough funds. I think there will be some additional allocation that’s there, as well as recognition that there’s other commodities that need to be included,” said Adam Rabinowitz, who recently joined Auburn University as Assistant Professor and Extension Economist. “We may not see, for instance, some of the row crops that’ll be harvested this fall, we may not see the true impact on some of those commodities until after harvest season. Until it’s harvested, we don’t really know what’s going to happen to the markets. Clearly things have not gotten better as of yet from a health perspective, where everything’s back to normal.”
Next Stimulus Package
Farmers and industry leaders are highly invested in what’s talked about on Capitol Hill. Additional monetary aid for agriculture is part of the discussion on the next stimulus package.
“They’ve started discussing the next stimulus package, and part of that discussion may be, whether or not there needs to be some additional funds available for agriculture,” Rabinowitz said. “Everything’s kind of up in the air with that in terms where the Senate proposal might be and how the Senate and the House might ultimately compromise.”
In a USDA press release issued on July 9, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced an initial list of additional commodities that were added to CFAP. Also adjustments were made by the USDA to the program based on comments from producers and organizations and review of market data during the Notice of Funding Availability period.
“I think it’s positive, certainly expanding the scope and it kind of goes a little bit with what we found in a survey that we did with Alabama producers. A good portion of those that responded to our survey just felt that CFAP didn’t even apply to them,” Rabinowitz said. “I think broadening the scope is certainly important.”
Producers were able to submit applications that included these commodities on Monday, July 13. The USDA Farm Service Agency is accepting applications for CFAP through Aug. 28. The program helps offset price declines and additional marketing costs due to the coronavirus pandemic.