Harvest is the priority for many farmers right now. But if you have a free morning or afternoon, consider checking out and signing up for the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, known as CFAP 2, Richard Fordyce said.
"If you catch a day where it's frosty and you can't do the (soy)bean field right away, maybe think about stopping in or making a call or emailing," Fordyce, Farm Service Agency administrator, told Agweek in a telephone interview Oct. 1.
He noted that the signup deadline for the program is Dec. 11, so there's no immediate need to apply,
Signup for the new program, which began Sept. 21, is going well so far, in part because of lessons learned during the first round of the CFAP earlier this year, he said.
"We've had technically nine days of signup as of today, and it's been a very strong response," he said. "The feedback we've gotten from different commodities and individual producers certainly has been positive about the approach of CFAP 2."
Some farmers who requested money through the second round already have received it, Fordyce said.
The FSA is one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's most important branches. It's involved in disaster, commodity, conservation and farm loan programs, among many other things, and frequently works directly with farmers at the local level.
In mid September USDA announced a second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This one, commonly known as CFAP 2, will provide farmers with financial assistance that gives them "the ability to absorb some of the increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic."
USDA has allotted $14 billion for the new round. Money will support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and other commodities.
CFAP 2 follows the first round of CFAP, now known as CFAP 1, which had an application period of May 26 through Sept. 11. The signup process for CFAP 1 went well, but experience gained from it inevitably is helping in the second round, Fordyce said.
"We wanted it (signup for the second round) to be simple, but still with a good bit of integrity for producers. And also not super-complicated for our staff who are helping producers," he said. "That has enabled us to get folks in, get applications processed and get payments to those producers that have applied."
Some local FSA offices have more staffing than others because of the pandemic, but all employees are dedicated, Fordyce said.
"I can't say enough about the commitment and passion that our people have," he said.
Ag producers who want to learn more about CFAP 2 can contact their local FSA office, go online at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap or phone the FSA call center, staffed by FSA employees, at 877-508-8364, Fordyce said.
This Agweek article has more information on CFAP 2: https://www.agweek.com/business/agriculture/6667844-Heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-CFAP-2.