OKLAHOMA CITY—President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced an additional $14 billion in Covid-19 relief for agriculture producers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) Sept. 18, 2020. During the pandemic, U.S. agriculture has lost billions to plummeting or volatile markets, sudden drops in demand, and supply chain weaknesses. CFAP is intended to support agriculture producers as they continue to face market disruptions and associated costs caused by Covid-19.
“Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers have been through the ringer,” said AFR/OFU Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “2020 has been a disastrous year, and it’s just the most recent in several years of market volatility that agricultural producers have suffered through.”
“Oklahoma producers, and their counterparts across the country, are continuing to face financial hardship. CFAP 2 will not erase the uncertainty or worry plaguing our farmers and ranchers, but it’s a step in the direction and we’re grateful for the assistance. Hopefully, this will put more producers back on sure footing so that those farming today will still be farming tomorrow.”
The first round of CFAP focused on market losses from January 15 to April 15 of this year; CFAP 2 will target losses from April 16 to August 31. Because of the target dates, winter wheat was overlooked in the first round. All classes of wheat are included in the second round, an inclusion that will no doubt help farmers in Oklahoma and throughout the Wheat Belt.
“Our state’s hardworking wheat growers were overlooked for direct payments earlier this year,” said Blubaugh. “I’m very pleased to see they’re included in this round of CFAP and will receive some relief. It’s good news, just as next year’s crop is going in the ground.”
Some Oklahoma cattle ranchers were also overlooked in the first round of CFAP payments. USDA was heavily criticized for an April 15 demarcation used to determine payments for livestock. Producers received 85 percent of actual price loss from Jan. 1 to April 15, but only 30 percent of expected losses from April 15 through the next two quarters.
Oklahoma cattle producers were hit hard by this dividing date. As live cattle prices plummeted in March and early April, ranchers scrambled to find ways to keep the stock they had intended to market during that time. Ranchers who managed to hold onto their animals felt punished by the much lower direct payment amount.
In an effort to correct the disparity between pre- and post-April 15 payments, the CFAP 2 payment rate for beef cattle is $55 per head. Payments are based on the maximum owned inventory of eligible livestock, excluding breeding stock, on a single date between April 16 and Aug. 31.
“Following a disappointing first round of payments for most cattle producers, CFAP 2 payments still fall short of much needed relief,” said Blubaugh. “We would much rather get our paycheck through the marketplace, but 2020 simply did not allow for that. We’re grateful for the second round of the program. But, I fear without further assistance, we may still lose some Oklahoma ranchers.”
The CFAP 2 payment limit is $250,000 total per individual or entity for all commodities combined. Corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits. Producers can apply for CFAP 2 through their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office Sept. 21 through Dec. 11, 2020.
AFR/OFU Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR/OFU provides educational, legislative and cooperative programs across the state and serves as a watchdog for Oklahoma’s family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. The organization is actively supportive of the state’s agricultural industry and rural population with membership consisting of farmers actively involved in production agriculture and non-farmers adding their voice in support of AFR/OFU principles.