Today the FSA will start accepting applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program CFAP through Aug. 28, 2020. Nebraska FSA State Executive Director Nancy Johner is reminding those in agriculture that this is a three-month enrollment period to work through. There is an anticipation for a very large number of applications due to the broad scope of commodities included in this program and the likelihood that it will include customers who do not routinely do business with FSA.
The FSA has shared some key points to remember as we work through the sign up process:
- Office status – While Governor Pete Ricketts continues to update Directed Health Measures that have allowed businesses to open at various levels across the state, Nebraska FSA offices are subject to direction from USDA headquarters. Currently, we remain open for business only via phone appointments and using email, mail, fax and online tools. We are not available for in-person traffic in our offices at this time. Our staff has been operating this way since mid-March, and we have many tools in place to facilitate business and complete the CFAP application process with customers.
- With that said, please encourage folks to visit the CFAP website by typing farmers.gov/cfap into their internet browser. This website is well-organized and detailed. It has a payment calculator that will help producers understand the information needed to complete an application, and it even allows the producer to convert the data entered into the calculator into an actual application that they can print, sign, and submit to their local FSA office. We know folks are accustomed to walking into their county office for service, but we believe use of the website will be an important option for implementation in our current environment.
- USDA has set up a toll-free number to also assist customers who have questions. That number is 877-508-8364. This can serve as a good first stop for customers so that they are better prepared for a successful county FSA office interaction, whether that be through a phone appointment or submitting an application they prepared online.
- Regarding funding, CFAP is structured to ensure the availability of funding for all eligible producers who apply. In order to do this, 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 nationwide, as funds remain available.
- The key phrase you will hear associated with defining whether an eligible commodity is covered through CFAP is “the commodity must be subject to price risk.” We understand that already there are specific questions as to how this applies to contracted commodities. FSA is working to update the CFAP website to further explain this issue. We will share more information on this subject as it becomes available.
In addition, Nebraska FSA will present on CFAP during two upcoming online sessions:
- Thursday, May 28, noon-1 p.m. CT: Nebraska Farm Bureau Facebook Live Event: Watch the presentation on Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Facebook page live. The presentation will be archived for later viewing on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Facebook page and the Nebraska Farm Bureau website at www.nefb.org/covid-19.
- Thursday, June 4, noon-1 p.m. CT: Webinar hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Agricultural Economics Department as part of its series, “COVID-19’s Impact on Nebraska Ag.” To register, type go.unl.edu/manage2020 into your internet browser. The session will be recorded and available on the website after the event.