USDA is committed to delivering financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers who have been impacted by COVID-19 market disruptions. Through our new initiative – USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers – USDA is dedicating $6.5 billion in available funding to reach a broad set of producers.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative on March 24, 2021. USDA is dedicating $6.5 billion in funding to reach a broader set of producers than in previous COVID-19 aid programs, with a specific focus on strengthening outreach to underserved producers and communities and small and medium agricultural operations.
Visit this page frequently for the latest updates on this critical initiative to support as many producers as possible, as equitably as possible.
Updates on Available Pandemic Assistance
USDA regularly announces updates to help agricultural producers and organizations in the food supply chain recover from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click to learn more about funding and assistance through each of the below.
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program
On March 24 USDA announced updates to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for producers of agricultural commodities marketed in 2020 who faced market disruptions due to COVID-19. USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) reopened signup for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning on April 5, 2021. CFAP updates also include:
- An increase in CFAP 1 payment rates for cattle. USDA estimates additional payments of more than $1.1 billion to more than 410,000 producers.
- Additional CFAP 2 assistance of $20 per acre for producers of eligible flat-rate or price-trigger crops. USDA estimates additional payments of more than $4.5 billion to more than 560,000 producers.
- Processing of eligible payments for CFAP Additional Assistance. USDA will finalize routine decisions and minor formula adjustments on applications and begin processing payments for certain applications filed for this program.
FSA is committed to improving outreach on programs, including CFAP, and will establish partnerships with organizations with strong connections to socially disadvantaged communities. FSA is now accepting proposals for cooperative agreements from organizations who can assist in this effort. Learn more about these agreements under Cooperative Agreements to Support Socially Disadvantaged Producers.
Visit farmers.gov/cfap for more information on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, including eligible commodities, producer eligibility, payment limitations and structure, and options to apply.
Cooperative Agreements to Support Socially Disadvantaged Producers
On April 5, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the availability of $2 million to establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
These cooperative agreements will support participation in programs offered by FSA, including those that are part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Outreach and technical assistance cooperative agreements will support projects that:
- Increase access and participation of socially disadvantaged applicants in FSA programs and services.
- Improve technical assistance for socially disadvantaged applicants related to county committees focused on urban agriculture as well as FSA programs, including loan, disaster assistance, conservation, and safety-net programs.
The deadline for interested organizations to submit proposals was May 5, 2021. FSA will prioritize review of proposals that support outreach on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2). To ensure effective outreach during the signup period for CFAP 2, these applications will be reviewed immediately following the submission deadline for prioritized approval and project initiation.
This funding opportunity was available to non-profits having a 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service (other than institutions of higher education), Federally recognized Native American tribal governments, Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments), and public and state-controlled institutions of higher education, including 1890 land grant institutions and 1994 tribal land grant colleges and universities.
Awards will range from $20,000 to $99,999 for a duration between six months and one year. Applications focusing primarily on CFAP 2 will be expedited. For other proposals, FSA anticipates announcing or notifying successful and unsuccessful applicants by June 20, 2021 and expects to have Federal awards in place by September 1, 2021.
For more information, view the cooperative agreement opportunity on grants.gov (No. USDA-FSA-MULTI-21-NOFO0001104).
Incentivizing the Purchase of Fruits and Vegetables for Low-Income Consumers
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will invest $75 million as directed by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Active Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) and Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grantees may request funding to allow them to address critical food and nutrition security needs of low-income communities, enhance the resilience of food and healthcare systems impacted by the pandemic, and maximize funds reaching participants in communities in need.
The GusNIP COVID Relief and Response grants program (GusCRR) helps low-income communities improve the affordability and consumption of fruits and vegetables by vulnerable participants in communities in need. GusCRR grants will support expanded scope of work started under previous awards to address pandemic relief and respond to community needs in an impactful, timely, and authentic way. NIFA will reach out directly to GusCRR eligible applicants with additional details and a copy of the Request for Applications (RFA).
Eligibility to receive a GusCRR grant is limited to organizations with a current active GusNIP nutrition incentive grant, GusNIP produce prescription grant, or FINI grant that began prior to December 27, 2020. An eligible organization may submit only one GusCRR nutrition incentive grant application and one produce prescription application.
USDA encourages applications that benefit smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, veteran producers, and/or underserved communities. For grants intending to serve these audiences, applicants should engage and involve those beneficiaries when developing projects and applications.
USDA is also updating the currently open fiscal year 2021 GusNIP RFA to more closely align with the law and extend that opportunity by two weeks to provide potential applicants additional time to consider the full range of available funding.
Visit nifa.usda.gov to learn more.
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
On April 13, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the availability of $169.9 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) to fund innovative projects designed to support the expanding specialty crop food sector and explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products. The total includes:
- $72.9 million available as part of the annual Farm Bill funding for the program; and
- An additional $97 million available as emergency funding for applications under this solicitation. Congress provided this funding in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, due to COVID-19 impacts to the food system.
Grant project funding awarded as part of pandemic assistance can also go to organizations to assist farmworkers (for example, for PPE and vaccination costs), projects to fund farmers, food businesses, and other relevant entities to respond to risks and supply chain disruption.
The SCBGP funds are allocated to U.S. states and territories based on a formula that considers both specialty crop acreage and production value. Interested applicants should apply directly through their state departments of agriculture. A listing of state contacts is available.
Applications must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 11, 2021. Any grant application submitted after the due date will not be considered unless the applicant provides documentation of an extenuating circumstance that prevented their timely submission of the grant application.
Visit the SCBGP website for more information about grant eligibility.
Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach Program
USDA will invest $75 million in additional funding for the Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach program.
The Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach program, administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE), encourages and assists socially disadvantaged, veteran, and beginning farmers and ranchers in the ownership and operation of farms and ranches. Learn more about this program at nifa.usda.gov.
Local Agricultural Marketing Program
USDA will invest $100 million in additional funding for the Local Agricultural Marketing Program.
The Local Agricultural Marketing Program, administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Rural Development (RD), supports the development, coordination, and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets, and enterprises and value-added agricultural products. Learn more about this program at ams.usda.gov.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
USDA will invest $20 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to improve and maintain animal disease prevention and response capacity. This will include support for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.
Learn more about APHIS at aphis.usda.gov/aphis/home/.
Agricultural Research Service
USDA will invest $20 million for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to work collaboratively with Texas A&M on the critical intersection between responsive agriculture, food production, and human nutrition and health.
Learn more about ARS at ars.usda.gov.
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
USDA will invest $28 million for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to provide grants to state departments of agriculture to expand or sustain existing farm stress assistance programs.
Learn more about NIFA at nifa.usda.gov.
Pandemic Assistance for Cotton Users Program
USDA will provide approximately $80 million in additional payments to domestic users of upland and extra-long staple cotton to support textile mills impacted by the pandemic. Under this one-time payment program, known as the Pandemic Assistance for Cotton Users (PACU) program, USDA will pay $.06 per pound to domestic users based on a 3-year monthly average during 2017 through 2019, covering 10 months in 2020. The program and payment formula were established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
Consumption information previously submitted to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) by domestic cotton users as participants of the Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills (EAATM) and Special Competitive Provisions for Extra Long Staple Cotton (ELS) will be used in determining payment. USDA will send payment certifications in support of payment issuance to EAATM and ELS program participants. USDA could begin to issue payments to domestic cotton users in mid- to late April 2021.
If you were a user of domestic cotton anytime from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2019 and did not participate in EAATM or ELS programs and have documentation to support your claim according to the provisions of the Act, please contact AMS’s Warehouse and Commodity Management Division (WCMD) at EAAP.ELS@usda.gov or by calling (816) 926-6638.
Visit ams.usda.gov to learn more.
Advance Notice to Trade about Dairy Donation Program
USDA will soon implement the Dairy Donation Program (DDP) as established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The program will facilitate the timely donation of dairy products to nonprofit organizations that distribute food to persons in need and prevent and minimize food waste. Because the statute allows retroactive reimbursements of donations made before donation and distribution plans are approved, USDA provided advance notice on April 13 of the minimum provisions to be included in the program to encourage the dairy industry to process and donate surplus milk supplies as it moves through the spring surplus milk production season.
Visit ams.usda.gov/notices for more information.
Expanding Help and Assistance to More Producers
USDA will develop a number of new programs or modify existing proposals using discretionary funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 and other coronavirus funding. Where rulemaking is required, it will commence this spring. These efforts will include assistance for:
- Dairy farmers through the Dairy Donation Program or other means.
- Euthanized livestock and poultry.
- Specialty crops; beginning farmers; and local, urban, and organic farms.
- Costs for organic certification or to continue or add conservation activities.
- Other possible expansion and corrections to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program such as to support dairy or other livestock producers.
- Timber harvesting and hauling.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other protective measures for food and farm workers and specialty crops and seafood processors and distributors.
- Improving the resilience of the food supply chain.
- Developing infrastructure to support donation and distribution of perishable commodities, including food donation and distribution through farm-to-school, restaurants, or other community organizations.
- Reducing food waste.
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