The Nebraska Farm Service Agency has released additional information and reminders for Nebraska farmers and ranchers as they begin to sign up for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Please see the information and critical dates below, including upcoming webinars. If you have specific questions, please let us know and we will work at the state and federal level to relay your questions and provide answers.
The application window for CFAP is Tuesday, May 26 through Aug. 28, 2020. That provides us a three-month enrollment period to work through what we anticipate to be 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.
A few key points as the application period begins:
- 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, FSA offices remain open for business only via phone appointments and using email, mail, fax and online tools. They are not available for in-person traffic in the offices at this time. FSA staff have been operating this way since mid-March, and they have many tools in place to facilitate business and complete the CFAP application process with customers.
- People are encouraged to visit the CFAP website by typing farmers.gov/cfap into your internet browser. This website is well-organized and detailed. It has a payment calculator that will help you understand the information needed to complete an application, and it even allows the you to convert the data entered into the calculator into an actual application that you can print, sign, and submit to their local FSA office. FSA knows you are accustomed to walking into your county office for service, but they believe use of the website will be an important option for implementation in the current environment.
- USDA has set up a toll-free number to also assist those 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.
One of the best things customers can do to assist FSA with CFAP implementation is to educate themselves about the program before calling the offices. Again, it is encouraged to use the farmers.gov/cfap website.
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.