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May 19, 2020 - 12:31pm

Press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today (May 19) announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need.

“America’s farming community is facing an unprecedented situation as our nation tackles the coronavirus," Secretary Perdue said. "President Trump has authorized USDA to ensure our patriotic farmers, ranchers, and producers are supported and we are moving quickly to open applications to get payments out the door and into the pockets of farmers.

“These payments will help keep farmers afloat while market demand returns as our nation reopens and recovers. America’s farmers are resilient and will get through this challenge just like they always do with faith, hard work, and determination.”

Beginning May 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses. 

Background: 

CFAP provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who 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.

Farmers and ranchers will receive direct support, drawn from two possible funding sources. The first source of funding is $9.5 billion in appropriated funding provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act to compensate farmers for losses due to price declines that occurred between mid-January 2020, and mid-April 2020 and provides support for specialty crops for product that had been shipped from the farm between the same time period but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channels. The second funding source uses the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act to compensate producers for $6.5 billion in losses due to on-going market disruptions. 

Non-Specialty Crops and Wool

Non-specialty crops eligible for CFAP payments include malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat. Wool is also eligible. Producers will be paid based on inventory subject to price risk held as of Jan. 15, 2020.

A payment will be made based 50-percent of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory as of January 15, 2020, whichever is smaller, multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates.

Livestock

Livestock eligible for CFAP include cattle, lambs, yearlings and hogs. The total payment will be calculated using the sum of the producer’s number of livestock sold between Jan. 15 and April 15, 2020, multiplied by the payment rates per head, and the highest inventory number of livestock between April 16 and May 14, 2020, multiplied by the payment rate per head.

Dairy

For dairy, the total payment will be calculated based on a producer’s certification of milk production for the first quarter of calendar year 2020 multiplied by a national price decline during the same quarter. The second part of the payment is based a national adjustment to each producer’s production in the first quarter. 

Specialty Crops

For eligible specialty crops, the total payment will be based on the volume of production sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020; the volume of production shipped, but unpaid; and the number of acres for which harvested production did not leave the farm or mature product destroyed or not harvested during that same time period, and which have not and will not be sold.

Specialty crops include, but are not limited to, almonds, beans, broccoli, sweet corn, lemons, iceberg lettuce, spinach, squash, strawberries and tomatoes. A full list of eligible crops can be found on farmers.gov/cfap. Additional crops may be deemed eligible at a later date.

Eligibility

There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies or limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits where members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions. 

Applying for Assistance

Producers can apply for assistance beginning on May 26, 2020. Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA office. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed. Applications will be accepted through Aug. 28, 2020.

Payment Structure

To ensure the availability of funding throughout the application period, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date as funds remain available.

USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment.

More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

May 8, 2020 - 11:03am

Press release:

Billions of dollars in potentially forgivable Payroll Protection Program (PPP) capital remains available to small businesses and nonprofits to help provide eight weeks of payroll and certain overhead to keep workers employed.

PPP, created out by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is responsible for infusing billions of dollars of capital into small businesses nationwide and saving jobs.

The second round, which kicked off April 27, has awarded 2,378,057 loans worth $181,158,888,644 as of close of business on Tuesday, May 5.

More than 900K of those loans, worth $57,296,660,188, were issued by small lenders.

The average PPP loan size is currently $76,000, a $130,000 reduction from the round one size, showing the dollars are further assisting mom & pops. SBA forgives the portion of Paycheck Protection loan proceeds used to cover the first eight weeks of payroll costs, rent, utilities, and mortgage interest.

Loan payments may be deferred for one year, and is retroactive from Feb. 15, so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30.

“The Paycheck Protection Program is working. Small businesses are keeping their employees on payroll and earning salary,” said SBA Atlantic Regional Administrator Steve Bulger, who oversees the federal agency’s operations in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“For this federal program to work for you and your employees, I encourage you to submit an application through a PPP-participating bank, credit union, CDFI or online lender.”

Approved Lenders can be found using the SBA Lender Locater at www.sba.gov/ppp.

“Upstate New York small businesses have a lifeline in the Paycheck Protection Program," added SBA Syracuse District Director Bernard J. Paprocki. "The funds loaned from your bank or lender will help pay your team’s salaries for eight weeks and keep your venture intact and well-positioned to not only survive but succeed."

The SBA Syracuse District Office serves 34 Upstate New York Counties from the Hudson Valley and Capital Region to the Mohawk Valley, North Country, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier.

Loan forgiveness is based on the borrower maintaining or quickly rehiring employees while maintaining salaries and hours. PPP loans have a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1 percent.

A copy of the PPP borrower application form with all information the federal government requires a small business to provide can be found here

April 9, 2020 - 2:25pm

Press release:

Agricultural producers now have more time to repay Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL) as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. The loans now mature at 12 months rather than nine, and this flexibility is available for most commodities.

“Spring is the season when most producers have the biggest need for capital, and many may have or are considering putting commodities under loan," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. "Extending the commodity loan maturity affords farmers more time to market their commodity and repay their loan at a later time.

"We are extremely pleased that USDA can offer these marketing flexibilities at this critical time for the agriculture industry and the nation.”

Effective immediately, producers of eligible commodities now have up to 12 months to repay their commodity loans. The maturity extension applies to nonrecourse loans for crop years 2018, 2019 and 2020. Eligible open loans must in good standing with a maturity date of March 31 or later or new crop year (2019 or 2020) loans requested by Sept. 30. All new loans requested by Sept. 30 will have a maturity date 12 months following the date of approval.

The maturity extension for current, active loans will be automatically extended an additional three months. Loans that matured March 31 have already been automatically extended by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Producers who prefer a nine-month loan will need to contact their local FSA county office. Loans requested after Sept. 30 will have a term of nine months.

Eligible commodities include barley, chickpeas (small and large), corn, cotton (upland and extra-long staple), dry peas, grain sorghum, honey, lentils, mohair, oats, peanuts, rice (long and medium grain), soybeans, unshorn pelts, wheat, wool (graded and nongraded); and other oilseeds, including canola, crambe, flaxseed, mustard seed, rapeseed, safflower, sunflower seed, and sesame seed. Seed cotton and sugar are not eligible.

About MALs

Placing commodities under loan provides producers interim financing to meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are low and allows producers to store production for more orderly marketing of commodities throughout the year.

These loans are considered nonrecourse because the commodity is pledged as loan collateral, and producers have the option of delivering the pledged collateral to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for repayment of the outstanding loan at maturity.

MAL Repayment

Under the new maturity provisions, producers can still repay the loan as they would have before the extension:

  • repay the MAL on or before the maturity date;
  • upon maturity by delivering or forfeiting the commodity to CCC as loan repayment; or
  • after maturity and before CCC acquires the farm-stored commodity by repaying the outstanding MAL principle and interest.

Marketing Loan Gains

A Marketing Loan Gain occurs when a MAL is repaid at less than the loan principal. If market gain is applicable during the now-extended loan period, producers can receive a gain on the repayment made before the loan matures.

For more information on MALs, contact the nearest FSA county office. USDA Service Centers, including FSA county offices, are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

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