The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced the availability of $2 million to establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The funding was made possible by USDA’s new Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, an effort to distribute resources more broadly and to put greater emphasis on outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers impacted by the pandemic. Today also marks the reopening of FSA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) signup as part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Farmers and ranchers will have at least 60 days to apply or make modifications to existing CFAP 2 applications.
The cooperative agreements will support participation in programs offered by FSA, including those that are part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Interested organizations must submit proposals by May 5, 2021.
“USDA is committed to making financial assistance available to a broader set of producers, including to socially disadvantaged communities, and we know that we need partners to help make that happen,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “This funding will support grassroots organizations and public institutions as we support their producers. I am excited to see their innovative, results-driven proposals to help us reach our producers, especially those who have not taken full advantage of the available assistance.”
Outreach and technical assistance cooperative agreements 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.
FSA will prioritize review of proposals that support outreach on 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 is 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.
CFAP 2 provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible commodities include specialty crops, livestock, dairy, row crops, aquaculture, floriculture and nursery crops. The initial CFAP 2 signup ended on Dec. 11, 2020, but USDA will reopen sign-up for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning today. Visit farmers.gov/cfap for details on all eligible commodities, producer eligibility, payment limitations and structure and additional program resources.
Producers have multiple options to apply for CFAP 2, including through an online application portal and by working directly with the FSA office at their local USDA Service Center. Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages with the team at the FSA county office.
Additional CFAP Actions
USDA will also finalize routine decisions and minor formula adjustments on applications and begin processing payments for certain applications filed as part of the CFAP Additional Assistance. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, enacted December 2020 requires FSA to make certain payments to producers according to a mandated formula.
While USDA offices are currently closed to visitors because of the pandemic, Service Center staff continue to work with agricultural producers via phone, email, and other digital tools. To conduct business, please contact your local USDA Service Center. Additionally, more information related to USDA’s response and relief for producers can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.
About Pandemic Assistance for Producers
Today’s announcement supports USDA’s efforts to bring financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and producers who felt the impact of COVID-19 market disruptions. The new initiative—USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers—will reach a broader set of producers than in previous COVID-19 aid programs. USDA is dedicating at least $6.5 billion toward the new programs. The Department will also develop rules for new programs that will put a greater emphasis on outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers, and timber harvesters, as well as provide support for the food supply chain and producers of renewable fuel, among others. For more information, visit farmers.gov/pandemic-assistance.