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New USDA initiative gives pandemic relief to previously overlooked farmers

26 March 2021

The USDA announced the creation of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers, a new initiative to offer financial assistance to farmers and ranchers affected by pandemic-related disruptions.

This endeavor will direct about $6 billion towards new outreach and support programs, with a particular focus on parts of the food system that were overlooked in previous rounds of assistance. This includes small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers, producers of renewable fuel, and local and regional food processing facilities. Pre-existing pandemic programs like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will be umbrellaed under the initiative, will receive additional funding, as will several other permanent UDSA programs. 

Throughout the pandemic, National Farmers Union (NFU) has urged USDA to ensure that aid is distributed “fairly and equitably” and that “payments are commensurate with demonstrated need.” In a statement, NFU President Rob Larew thanked the agency for reevaluating its methods and taking steps to serve farmers who were initially excluded.

“Federal assistance has been absolutely fundamental to the agriculture industry’s survival during the pandemic. Unfortunately, as National Farmers Union has pointed out, some farmers – particularly those who are socially disadvantaged, run smaller operations, grow specialty crops, or sell into local and value-added markets – have been largely unable to access the help they need due to inadequate outreach and structural flaws. Because those producers already tend to lack financial security, we were concerned that the lack of support could lead to a wave of farm closures.

“We appreciate USDA’s recognition of these issues and efforts to rectify them with the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. This sensible approach will help reach farmers who have previously been excluded from relief programs and keep them in business. As the agency implements this plan, we stand ready to provide further input on how to distribute resources in an effective and equitable manner.”

An in-depth explanation of the new initiative can be found here

TheCattleSite News Desk



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