The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue announced yesterday the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This new USDA program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers and consumers in response to COVID-19. 

President Trump directed USDA to craft this $19 billion immediate relief program to provide critical support for farmers, ranchers and consumers.

USDA will provide $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers and $3 billion to purchase agriculture products to help consumers in need. The $16 billion in direct payments to farmers includes:

$9.6 billion for the livestock industry
$5.1 billion for cattle
$2.9 billion for dairy
$1.6 billion for hogs
$3.9 billion for row crop producers
$2.1 billion for specialty crops producers
$500 million for others crops

Producers will receive one single payment determined using two calculations:

  1. Price losses that occurred January 1-April 15, 2020. Producers will be compensated for 85% of price loss during that period.
  2. Second part of the payment will be expected losses from April 15 through the next two quarters, and will cover 30% of expected losses.

The payment limit is $125,000 per commodity with an overall limit of $250,000 per individual or entity. Qualified commodities must have experienced a 5% price decrease between January and April. 

“Our staff at National will work daily to get details of these programs communicated to our customers,” said Robert York, CEO of National Livestock. “Once more details are available producers shouldn’t wait to complete their applications and compile the proper documentation. As we’ve seen with other programs, funds aren’t necessarily guaranteed and have run out quickly. 

“More needs to be done to fix the underlying causes of declining profitability in ranching and we will continue to work on those issues,” York said.

USDA is expediting the rulemaking process for the direct payment program and expects to begin sign-up for the new program in early May and to get payments out to producers by the end of May or early June.

At this time, these are the only details available. National Livestock is waiting on USDA to release information regarding how to file for a direct payment through the FSA. Additional information will be posted on NationalLivestock.com as it becomes available.