Only a few weeks remain for the farmer leaders now at USDA to advance some of their remaining priorities, including teeing up some programs funded in recent actions by Congress including the additional $13 billion in coronavirus aid and actions allowed through the consolidated appropriations bill.
One of those first new rollouts includes the Quality Loss Adjustment program that USDA announced Jan. 5 after Congress allocated an additional $1.5 billion for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). And USDA leaders say additional action could be coming in the weeks ahead of the Jan. 20 transition of power.
Bill Northey, USDA Farm Production and Conservation undersecretary, shares, “We’re looking at getting a few things we can get done before we leave and have a few things teed up.”
Northey adds that some final actions are at the Office of Management and Budget for final review, but was not free to say exactly what was pending. “We would like to do some things to implement as fast as we can for producers.”
He adds that some things FPAC would like to get out very quickly. “We’re making every effort to get what implemented what we can and make it easy for the next administration to implement as quickly as they can.”
He did not say whether another round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments would be initiated but said the additional $13 billion provided for the Commodity Credit Corporation offers some ability to offer additional aid for producers in 2021. The announcement earlier this week by USDA to extend the Farmers to Families Food Box program with $1.5 billion is included within that $13 billion allocation.
FSA offices and staff have already helped distribute over $27 billion in CFAP 1 and CFAP 2 programs. The agencies also oversaw high levels of payments in the Market Assistance Program as a result of the trade war impacts.
Northey adds that other issues will take some more time, including some of the provisions in the giant package advanced by Congress including how the 80% payments on euthanizing livestock will look.
With 99% of the USDA staff career and staying on after the transition, Northey says that will help.
As for Northey’s future plans, he says he’s likely to head back to Iowa. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce says he too will return to his home state of Missouri.