The Long-Awaited Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for Farmers

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) program is here, and it is welcome news for many agriculture producers. Learn how your farm can benefit from this US Department of Agriculture (USDA) program.

The program is being administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) with assistance from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) with respect to specialty crops. Signup for the program began on May 26, and the application period will end on August 28, 2020.

Signup must be submitted in person (by appointment), by mail, e-mail, or facsimile to your FSA county office.

Qualifications and Limitations

Determination of eligible crops or livestock for the CFAP payment is not determined at the individual farm level. The USDA determines crop and livestock eligibility, along with the payment rates for each commodity. The amount an individual farmer may receive based on the USDA payment rate will be determined at the farm level based on either production and/or inventory within specific date limitations.1 The farmer or eligible business entity must have an average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) below $900,000 for the 2016, 2017, and 2018 tax years unless 75% or more of the AGI is from farming, ranching, and forestry-related activities.1

The USDA will continue to “reconsider excluded commodities if credible evidence is provided that supports a 5% price decline.” The USDA will also continue to consider additional eligible crops through the collection of additional information. The USDA is attempting to obtain relevant information for nursery products, aquaculture products, and cut flowers. For further information, please review the Notice of Funding Availability and Request for Information.2 Payment rates for all eligible crops and livestock can be found in the appropriate tables within the CFAP Final Rule.1

For a farmer to receive a CFAP payment, they must fill out the CFAP application (AD-3114) and all other necessary FSA forms. Some important dates for determining the payment to be received include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020 – the farmer must have owned in whole or in part, an eligible commodity.
  2. By April 15, 2020 – specialty crops were shipped from the farm and subsequently spoiled, the farmer did not receive a payment.
  3. Between April 16, 2020 and May 14, 2020 – livestock producers of unpriced hogs, pigs, cattle, lamb, and yearling need to provide their highest inventory level.

There is a maximum CFAP payment limitation of $250,000 per person or legal entity. The exception to this is that if the legal entity has more than one active owner/member that provides at least 400 hours of “personal active labor” and “active personal management” per year; then the maximum limitation will be expanded to $250,000 per person to a maximum of three eligible individuals for a total possible maximum CFAP payment limitation of $750,000 for that legal entity. An example would be a Limited Liability Company (LLC) with two eligible owners. Both owners provide 400 or more hours of active labor and management for the year. The LLC has eligible crops and livestock, which equals $700,000 in possible payments based on the USDA payment rates, but due to the maximum CFAP payment limitations, the business entity (LLC) would receive no more than $500,000 ($250,000 x 2 – eligible owners) in CFAP payments.

The farmer or farming entity will initially receive 80% of the total CFAP payment; if there is money remaining within the program appropriations, the remaining 20% of the payment will be made available later.

Livestock and Dairy

There are two parts of the payment that livestock farmers (including dairy) will receive through CFAP. The first part is intended to cover actual losses experienced by farmers between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020.

The second part is intended to cover anticipated losses in the “second quarter.” For livestock, this is based on the highest inventory of eligible livestock, by species and class, between April 16, 2020 and May 14, 2020. Cull dairy cattle entering the meat food chain qualify as slaughter cattle/mature cattle commodity category under the livestock program payments. While dairy bull/steer calves may qualify as beef cattle under 600 lbs under the livestock program payments.

The potential payment limitations for dairy are based on January through March 2020 production for both parts of the payment.

Non-Specialty Crops

Similar to livestock and dairy, there are two components to the payment that non-specialty crop farmers receive (corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, etc.). Both components are based on 50% of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory as of January 15, 2020, whichever is smaller, multiplied by 50%, and then multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates.

In livestock, dairy, and non-specialty crop payments, one component of the payment is covered by the CARES Act, and the second component is covered by CCC payments.

Specialty Crops

Producers of eligible specialty crops may receive CFAP payments for one or more of the following three purposes:

  1. Had crops that suffered a five percent-or-greater price decline between the average price for the week of January 13–17 and the average price for the week of April 6–10 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Had produce shipped by April 15, 2020, but that subsequently “spoiled due to loss of marketing channel.”
  3. Had shipments that did not leave the farm or mature crops that remained unharvested between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020.

In the case of specialty crops, a crop may be ineligible for the Category 1 payment, but still be eligible for a Category 2 or 3 payment. For example, apples did not show a 5% decline in price from mid-January to mid-December, but if a grower had shipped apples and was never paid for them, they may be eligible for a payment under Category 2. CARES Act payments cover Category 1 and 2 components, while CCC payments cover Category 3 components.

An online calculator is available for producers to estimate the payment that they will receive and can be found through a link at The calculator includes sections for Dairy, Non-Specialty Crops and Wool, Livestock, (Aquaculture/Nursery to be announced later in a Notice of Funding Availability by FSA), and Specialty Crops.

Farmers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office to discuss signup as soon as possible. There are a number of forms to fill out to participate in the CFAP program. If you have enrolled in FSA programs in the past, you may have completed some of these already. The CFAP application period will end on August 28, 2020.

Farmers will need to make sure their records are in order. This may include 2019 and 2020 inventory of crops and livestock, 2019 production records, all sales that have taken place within the specified dates for your crop or livestock, and accounting to determine payments received and/or those left in accounts receivable.

As with other Federal/State coronavirus response programs, some details of this program are yet to be defined, and interpretations/determinations may change. Please look for the most current information on the USDA’s website.

Additional resources and information on assistance programs related to COVID-19 can be found at

  • Clemson Cooperative Extension, Agribusiness Program Team Resources for COVID-19 website
  • Michigan State University Extension, Farm Management Agribusiness Resources for Novel Coronavirus website


  1. Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Final Rule. Federal Register Rules and Regulations Vol. 85, No. 99 Thursday, May 21, 2020; Department of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary. 7 CFR Part 9, Docket ID: FSA-2020-0004, RIN 0503-AA65.
  2. Notice of Funding Availability; Request for Comments. US Department of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary. Docket ID: FSA-2020-0004.
  3. Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Washington (DC): US Department of Agriculture.

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