Farmers and ranchers in Wyoming can now apply for financial assistance through USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Wyoming’s agriculture industry has taken it on the chin like Ag industries throughout the United States, and federal organizations such as the US Department of Agriculture are stepping up to initiate programs to support farmers and small businesses in need of financial assistance.

Agricultural producers can now apply for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which provides direct payments to offset impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the CARES Act and organizations that include Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency are working to provide more flexibilities to help producers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

As for the CFAP program, it “started today (Tuesday, May 26),” according to Lois Van MARK, state executive director of the Farm Service Agency in Wyoming, speaking from her office in Casper. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will include direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted, as well as assistance for producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19. The program is eligible to farmers regardless of size and market, if they suffered an eligible loss.

She stressed, local county offices are continuing to work, however, they can’t “meet face-to-face,” as they aren’t allowed to let people into the offices. Van MARK said there are two ways people can access the information – 1. call their local office or 2. go to the website.

Van MARK said the information that had been out-and-about was this was on a first-come, first-serve basis. She said that is not true. It is available to “everyone (Ag producers) across the nation.”

Some of the nation’s dairy producers have dumped their milk due to the disruption in the milk market. The Risk Management Agency is ensuring milk producers who purchased insurance are not inappropriately penalized if their milk must be dumped because of the market disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The application and a payment calculator are now available online, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff members are available via phone, fax and online tools to help producers complete applications. The agency set up a call center in order to simplify how they serve new customers across the nation.

Applications will be accepted through Aug. 28. Through CFAP, USDA is making available $16 billion for vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production,

According to a press release Tuesday sent by Van MARK, “U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need.”

These programs are being implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), which will accept applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses.

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