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Farm Service Agency currently accepting sign-up for numerous farmer assistance programs

by Megan Roberts, Extension educator

Two individuals in a hog barn

This article was originally published on January 15, 2021 and subsequently updated with new information in late February.

The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) continues to announce additional programs to assist farmers. The farmers.gov website delivers the most up-to-date, accurate information on these programs, and we recommend farmers visit that site for timely info and releases. Some of these programs are COVID-19 related disaster programs, while others are ongoing risk management programs with regular sign-up periods.

This post draws attention to several FSA programs currently accepting sign-ups. 

CFAP 1 and 2

Announced on January 15, 2021, FSA will allow additional eligibility for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 1 and CFAP 2) to farmers that may not have applied previously due to ineligibility, as well as offering additional retroactive payments for some producers that already received specific types of CFAP 1 and/or 2 payments. FSA identifies the following as the main adjustments to CFAP 1 and CFAP 2:
  • Expanded Eligibility for CFAP 2,
  • Updated Payment Calculations for CFAP 2, and
  • CFAP 1 'Top-up’ Payments for Swine.
CFAP 2 changes require new or modified application during the program period that began January 19, 2021. Newly eligible producers for CFAP 2 include 1) contract grower of broilers, pullets, layers, chicken eggs, turkeys, hogs, or pigs, 2) pullet producers, and 3) turfgrass sod growers. Updated payment calculations commodities are a much more extensive list, from row crops to specialty crops and specialty livestock. Often the new CFAP 2 adjustments allow crop insurance and other indemnities to be added to eligible sales. Please check farmers.gov/CFAP for more detailed information or read FSA's summary here. In contrast to CFAP 2 modified applications, CFAP 1 additional payments to previously approved swine producers are automatic. According to FSA, “swine producers with approved CFAP 1 applications will soon automatically receive a 'top-up' payment of $17 per head increasing the total CFAP1 inventory payment to $34 per head.” UPDATED INFO: In late January USDA announced the agency had, "suspended the processing and payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program - Additional Assistance and has halted implementation until further notice. FSA local offices will continue to accept applications during the evaluation period." The USDA later announced that the end period for applications was extended beyond the original sign-up deadline of February 26, and "producers will be given at least an additional 30 days to sign up after any decision is announced." At present, there is no announced end date for CFAP 1 and CFAP 2 - Additional Assistance sign-up.

In regards to the new CFAP 1 & 2 rules, FSA said, "some of these changes are being made to align with the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 while others are discretionary changes being made in response to ongoing evaluation of CFAP."

ARC-PLC

Farmers of commodity crops should also be aware of the current sign up period for making elections and getting enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2021 crop year. The 2018 Farm Bill enables producers to make annual selections for ARC-PLC beginning in 2021; this is a major change as compared to the 2014 Farm Bill. In Janauary, the University of Minnesota partnered with Minnesota FSA to offer 2021 Farm Bill education. I invite you to learn more about ARC-PLC program decision factors at z.umn.edu/farmbill2021. You can download presentation materials, watch a recording from our January 12, 2021 joint presentation with FSA, and download county-specific ARC-PLC comparisons. Our recent blog post also covers this information in detail. The deadline for determining your ARC-PLC decision is March 15, 2021. 

QLA

Quality Loss Assistance (QLA) is a retroactive program designed to help recoup documented quality losses of over 5% for crops produced in 2018 and/or 2019. According to the USDA, "eligible crops may have been sold, fed on-farm to livestock, or may be in storage at the time of application." Qualifying losses in Minnesota could be the result of drought, excessive moisture, flooding, snowstorms, or tornadoes. The USDA recently updated its farmers.gov/quality-loss online information to include a downloadable excel QLA calculator, which most producers will find helpful in determining if they have losses that meet the threshold and calculating their application amounts. UPDATED INFO The deadline to apply is April 9, 2021, extended from the previously announced deadline.

Sign up periods

Important sign-up periods going on now at Farm Service Agency include:
  • Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) retroactive adjustments and expanded eligibility: UPDATED INFO sign up begins January 19, 2021, and will conclude at least 30 days after the CFAP 2 regulatory review decision announcement,
  • Livestock Forage Program (LFP): 2020 enrollment ongoing until February 1, 2021, note very few counties in Minnesota qualify for this program as it primarily affects the southwest United States,
  • Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs (ARC-PLC): October 13, 2020 to March 15, 2021,
  • Quality Loss Assistance (QLA): January 6, 2021 to April 9, 2021, and
  • Conservation Reserve Program (CRP): UPDATED INFO enrollment is now ongoing/continuous until further notice. There previously had been a sign-up deadline for general CRP.

Contact your local FSA office

There are additional ongoing program requirements, and this list is not meant to be exhaustive. To find more information about FSA disaster assistance programs, visit farmers.gov or contact your local FSA office. To find your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-center-locator.



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