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By Paul Schattenberg/Special to The Hesperian-Beacon—
COLLEGE STATION – The Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University in College Station has released a new report providing details and insights into the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
“Overview of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, CFAP,” was produced by center co-directors Bart Fischer, Ph.D., and Joe Outlaw, Ph.D., along with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agricultural economists David Anderson, Ph.D., College Station, and Justin Benavidez, Ph.D., Amarillo.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released details on CFAP and announced that sign-up for the program will be from May 26 to Aug. 28. In providing direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA is drawing on two separate funding authorities: $9.5 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act, and $6.5 billion from the Commodity Credit Corporation, or CCC.
“Given the scope of the challenges facing the agricultural industry, more assistance will undoubtedly be needed as the impact of the pandemic continues to unfold,” Fischer said. “This report is based on our review of available information, but eligibility for the new program will ultimately be determined by USDA.”
Fischer said the CFAP’s $19 billion package contains two primary components:
- First, the USDA’s commitment to partner with regional and local distributors to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat, beginning with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products and $100 million per month in meat products.
- Second, the USDA’s commitment to provide $16 billion in direct support to agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and to assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.
“This report provides an update on both components of CFAP,” Fischer said.
The CFAP provides much-needed aid for producers who have been significantly affected by COVID-19, Outlaw noted.
Despite the fact the coronavirus relief bill provided a $14 billion replenishment for the CCC, the funding is not available until after June 2020. As a result, they are drawing on existing CCC funding to operate the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
According to the report, commodities eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program include: