The pace of payments from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, has slowed recently. USDA is a long way away from distributing the full $16 billion in direct payments to farmers.
“We are looking at that to see what are the reasons that right now we’re around $6.8 billion that have been paid out,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky, who says producers have until Aug. 28th to apply. “I know, anecdotally, I’ve talked to some producers who are now just beginning to sign up and fill out their form, so hopefully folks will get that in. But we know that the need is out there, so we do think that there’s going to be the demand for it.”
Could we see some changes to the formula with the next round of CFAP, when it happens, so payments reach more farmers? Censky says they are exploring options now that they have more money from Congress to work with.
“They gave US $14 billion in CCC (Commodity Credit Corporation) funds, but that wasn’t going to be made available until after our June 30 financial statements. So, now we are just now receiving those dollars. We’re taking a look to see how do we spend those dollars to basically try to top up. We’re taking a look to see how do we change the formulas to try to increase producers revenue there and obviously we want to try to help producers as much as possible.”
Censky added that there will not be another round of Market Facilitation Payments now that USMCA and the Phase One trade deal with China are in force. He says China has been stepping up with purchases of US ag commodities lately, but, “They need to do more.
“If they’re going to meet that $36.5 billion mark, they have to step it up even more. So, we’re monitoring that very closely.”
Censky was the keynote speaker at the American Soybean Association’s 100th anniversary celebration in Indiana on Tuesday.