U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced yesterday that additional commodities will now be covered by the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) in response to public comments and data. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the deadline to apply for the program to Sept. 11. Unfortunately, USDA did not extend eligibility to any additional classes of wheat. Currently, only hard red spring and durum wheat are eligible for CFAP payments.
USDA collected comments and supporting data for consideration of additional commodities through June 22, 2020. The following additional commodities are now eligible for CFAP:
- Specialty Crops – aloe leaves, bananas, batatas, bok choy, carambola (star fruit), cherimoya, chervil (french parsley), citron, curry leaves, daikon, dates, dill, donqua (winter melon), dragon fruit (red pitaya), endive, escarole, filberts, frisee, horseradish, kohlrabi, kumquats, leeks, mamey sapote, maple sap (for maple syrup), mesculin mix, microgreens, nectarines, parsley, persimmons, plantains, pomegranates, pummelos, pumpkins, rutabagas, shallots, tangelos, turnips/celeriac, turmeric, upland/winter cress, water cress, yautia/malanga, and yuca/cassava.
- Nonspecialty Crops and Livestock – liquid eggs, frozen eggs and all sheep. Only lambs and yearlings (sheep less than two years old) were previously eligible.
- Aquaculture – catfish, crawfish, largemouth bass and carp sold live as foodfish, hybrid striped bass, red drum, salmon, sturgeon, tilapia, trout, ornamental/tropical fish, and recreational sportfish.
- Nursery Crops and Flowers – nursery crops and cut flowers.
Other changes to CFAP include:
- Seven commodities – onions (green), pistachios, peppermint, spearmint, walnuts and watermelons – are now eligible for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act funding for sales losses. Originally, these commodities were only eligible for payments on marketing adjustments.
- Correcting payment rates for onions (green), pistachios, peppermint, spearmint, walnuts, and watermelons.
Along with the announcement was a Notice of Funds Availability that included an overview of the comments USDA received along with responses. Here is USDA’s response to comments made by the wheat industry asking the agency to include assistance for other types of wheat:
USDA determined that other wheat varieties (including hard red winter, soft red winter, and soft white winter) are ineligible. The industry provided information recognizing that the monthly NASS prices between January and April (which were not available during the initial CFAP analysis) do not support a 5 percent price loss. The National Wheat Association Growers requested that USDA instead compare the highest and lowest daily May 2020 futures contract between January and March, but this methodology does not conform with existing CFAP policy. USDA has determined that wheat varieties, with the exception of hard red spring wheat and durum wheat, are not eligible for CFAP due to not having a 5 percent or greater price decline, nationally.
The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) are very disappointed that USDA failed to recognize that farmers of all classes of wheat have experienced 2019 crop year marketing losses due to COVID-19. NAWG and WAWG are continuing to work with Congress and USDA to find ways to provide support to Washington wheat farmers.