Congressman Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., initiated a video call with Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Zach Ducheneaux last week in which they discussed the USDA’s apparent intention to cancel long-scheduled “top up” Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments to pork producers.
“USDA’s refusal to provide needed assistance to American pork producers is completely unacceptable. These ‘top up’ payments were long ago appropriated and have been promised to pork producers since January. The Biden administration’s freeze on CFAP payments has shortchanged southern Minnesota’s pork producers, including independent family farmers who were promised help and desperately need assistance,” Hagedorn stated.
In January, the Trump administration finalized a rule authorizing $17.00/head in additional CFAP assistance for swine producers based off of inventory held from April 16, 2020, to May 14, 2020. In August, Hagedorn and Congressman Randy, R-Iowa, sent a letter to FSA Administrator Ducheneaux urging him to process the top up payments immediately.
A spokesperson for USDA confirmed the agency’s move, referencing its website which states:
“As announced earlier this year, USDA evaluated past CFAP program assistance and determined previous payment methodologies using flat rates across all swine inventory were not targeted and did not reflect the variation in levels of losses between producers. As a result, the proposed assistance under the prior administration in providing a flat rate swine payment based on CFAP 1 inventories will not be pursued. Where there is flexibility, USDA will instead continue to target assistance based on gaps or disparities in previous assistance.”
Hagedorn said swine producers have been waiting for over eight months to receive compensation, “but have been given no indication from USDA as to if or when these payments will be made.”
“This COVID relief assistance is vital to sustaining family farms, rural communities and America’s food supply. Voiding these payments demonstrates a lack of empathy for our family farmers and is just another example of the Biden administration’s War on Agriculture,” he added.
USDA’s website also states that the agency has determined there was a significant price drop during April through September 2020 due to the pandemic and that additional pandemic livestock assistance will be announced for small hog producers that use the spot market or negotiated prices.
Andrew Bailey, NPPC science and technology counsel, commented, “The National Pork Producers Council is disappointed that pork producers won’t be getting additional CFAP payments. Producers over the past few years have dealt not only with the pandemic but with trade disruptions and retaliatory tariffs. Through all of it, they have continued providing American consumers and people around the globe with the world’s safest, most nutritious protein.”
Past USDA assistance to swine producers include both sales and inventory payments under CFAP 1, and inventory payments under CFAP 2. In addition, USDA said sign up is ongoing for those producers whose animals were depopulated due to insufficient processing under the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program and for contract producers of swine under CFAP 2 to provide assistance for revenue losses.