PLATTSBURGH — Farmers looking for aid after losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program until Aug. 28, the agency says.
The USDA made $16 billion available at the beginning of June for financial assistance for producers of agricultural goods that have suffered a 5 percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face “additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities,” a release said.
The aid consists of direct payments to the crop producers, USDA Franklin County Farm Service Agency Executive Director Jennifer Bosley said, to cover losses due to reduced prices as well as issues with marketing.
Eligible crops and livestock include dairy and corn, and eligible specialty crops include apples and potatoes, according to the USDA website.
Accepted applicants will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application, while the remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date nationwide as funds remain available, the USDA website said.
As of June 29, $134,484,815 had been dispensed to 6,574 applicants across New York state, according to a data table on the USDA website. The full table can be found at tinyurl.com/yckjhdc3.
While he was not positive on exact numbers up to today, County Chair Todd Giroux said that, as of a week or two ago, the Clinton/Essex Farm Service Agency Office had already handed out over $2 million to local farmers through the program.
Giroux, also the president of the Clinton County chapter of the New York Farm Bureau, said that most area farms had enrolled, or begun the process of enrolling.
“It’s not the hardest program in the world to get into, it’s just a matter of having records,” Giroux said. “I haven’t heard of anybody in the area that’s had trouble with it.”
Applications will be accepted through Aug. 28.
Farmers can download an application and other eligibility forms from farmers.gov/cfap, where a payment calculator can also be found to help identify sales and inventory records needed to apply and calculate potential payments.
After using the online calculator tool, applicants will be able to print off a pre-filled CFAP application, sign, and submit to their local farm service agency office either electronically or via hand delivery.
To find out the preferred method of delivery, contact the Franklin County Farm Service Agency office at 518-483-2850, extension 2, or the Clinton-Essex office at 518-561-4616, extension 2.
“None of us want to get a handout,” Giroux, a dairy farmer himself, said. “I’d still rather just get paid for what I do for a living, but it’s been helpful.”