The United States Secretary of Agriculture announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative this week which brings financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and producers impacted by the market disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through this initiative approximately $500 million in expedited assistance will support several existing grant programs, which include:
$100 million in additional funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which enhances the competitiveness of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops.
$75 million in additional funding for the Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach program, administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, which encourages and assists socially disadvantaged, veteran, and beginning farmers and ranchers in the ownership and operation of farms and ranches.
$100 million in additional funding for the Local Agricultural Marketing Program, administered by the AMS and Rural Development, which supports the development, coordination and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets and enterprises and value-added agricultural products.
The Local Agricultural Marketing Program includes the Local Food Promotion Program and Farmers Market Promotion Program. To learn more about these programs or to read the 2020 guidelines, click here.
In addition to these programs, an additional $6 billion will be allocated to new programs that could support:
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
Funding provided by these new programs will be forthcoming; with the rule-making on eligibility and application requirements likely to commence this spring.
In addition, USDA will accept new applications under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which provides direct payments to eligible producers of agricultural commodities. The application period will open April 5 and will be open for 60 days. Click here to learn more about Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.