Washington Farmers Can Apply Tuesday For Coronavirus Relief Program (w/video)
Washington farmers and ranchers can apply Tuesday for a new federal program that will provide billions to support the country's producers in the wake of the coronavirus.
This was the highlight of Wednesday's AWB webinar with U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse, two Washington Republicans whose districts are anchored by the state's diverse agriculture economy.
Applications will be accepted Tuesday for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will distribute about $19 billion in direct payments to eligible producers that have suffered price declines and additional marketing costs because of the pandemic. As one example, the price of wheat was $5.81 a bushel in late January, according to the Wall Street Journal. Today, it's $5.15 per bushel.
"We've put together this program in lightning speed," said Jon Wyss, state executive director of the department's Farm Service Agency. Wyss joined McMorris Rodgers and Newhouse on the program. "Normally it takes six months to get things through the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) and USDA and others, and we are proud to announce that we'll be able, as the president said yesterday, have this go live on Tuesday next week."
To prepare, Wyss recommended going to www.farmers.gov/cfap. There, producers can review what commodities qualify, and what documents will be needed in order to apply. Generally, producers who have suffered a 5% or greater price decline, or had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 may qualify. Click here to read more.
Wyss also said a payment estimator would go live next week. He also provided his contact information in case anyone has questions: His email is Jon.Wyss@usda.gov, and his phone is 509.323.3003.
The USDA is also rolling out the Farmers to Families Food Box program as part of its coronavirus response. Many producers have been stuck with excess inventory, from onions to potatoes and fresh vegetables, due to the national shutdown of many restaurants, bars and hotels. The department will buy up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat, and distribute it to food banks and other nonprofits to help Americans in need. Click here to learn more about solicitations for this program.
This support for the country's agriculture producers was included in the federal CARES Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and other USDA programs, the agency reports.
McMorris Rodgers expressed appreciation for the state's agriculture sector, including "all that you do, day in and day out, to provide us with a safe and secure food supply."
"That has only been underscored during this time," she said.
Newhouse, a hops farmer from Sunnyside, encouraged producers to contact his office and provide feedback about how these policies are playing out.
"We really do value the input that we get from people, so that we can make this work as well as possible and be as effective as possible," Newhouse said.
For more information about federal agricultural policy, please contact AWB's Amy Anderson at AmyA@awb.org. To see a video of Wednesday's conversation, please check out the video below.