USDA Updates COVID 19 Assistance for Farmers Ranchers

USDA Updates COVID-19 Assistance for Farmers, Ranchers

USDA Updates COVID 19 Assistance for Farmers Ranchers

Information current as of March 25, 2021


On March 25, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced details of how the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide COVID-19 assistance to farmers and ranchers as authorized by Congress last December. The December package included direct aid to crop producers, cattle producers, contract growers, livestock producers who had to depopulate animals, and additional inventory payments for livestock producers.

While the Vilsack announcement detailed the issuance of program payments to producers of some commodities, other programs and payments authorized by Congress remain on hold due to administrative review. The analysis below provides a sector by sector accounting of payment/program status.

Additional information can be found at Farmers and ranchers should always contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office for additional details or questions. To find your local FSA office, please visit

Details by Sector

Crops and Specialty Crops

  • The December COVID-19 package included a flat $20 per eligible acre payment to crop producers.
  • Eligible Nebraska commodities include alfalfa, corn, honey, sorghum, soybeans, sugar beets, sunflowers, turfgrass sod, and wheat.
  • The Farm Service Agency will begin automatically issuing payments to eligible producers beginning April 1, 2021 based on the eligible acres listed on previously filed Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) applications. Producers will not need to apply for the payments.

Livestock Producers


  • Included in the USDA announcement is additional inventory-based direct payments for cattle producers based on the number of cattle in inventory between April 16, 2020, and May 14, 2020.
  • Only producers who previously applied for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP 1) are eligible to receive this additional payment. Payments will be made directly to eligible recipients and producers will not need to apply for the payments. Nebraska cattle producers should expect those payments to be issued soon.
  • Payment rates are detailed below:

Assistance to Cattle Producers


  • USDA’s recent announcement indicated that additional Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP 1) payments to pork producers will remain on hold and are likely to require modifications to the regulation as part of a broader administrative evaluation.

  • As a point of reference, on Jan. 15, 2021 USDA announced a “top-up” payment totaling $17 per head via the original CFAP 1. The additional funds would bring the total CFAP 1 inventory payment to $34 per head.

Depopulated Animals

  • As a result of significant supply chain disruptions, some livestock producers were forced into the position of having to euthanize hogs and poultry animals.
  • The December COVID-19 relief package did include language to direct USDA to make payments to producers for losses incurred due to the depopulation of livestock and poultry due to insufficient processing access. The bill laid out that these payments will be up to 80 percent of the fair market value of the depopulated animals, and for the costs of depopulation. 
  • The recent USDA announcement did not detail support for these producers. Secretary Vilsack stated that USDA will need to develop programs to reimburse these producers as they were not covered by the previous programs being utilized to make this round of payments. 

Contract Livestock Producers

  • Aid for contract livestock producers was left out of both CFAP 1 as well as CFAP 2.

  • The COVID-19 relief bill passed in December identified these producers as being eligible for support under the act.

  • The USDA announcement clarified that payments for contract growers under CFAP additional assistance remains on hold and is likely to require modifications to the regulation as part of a broader administrative evaluation. FSA will continue to accept applications from interested contract growers during this evaluation period.

Other Provisions of Note

Assistance for Ethanol Processors

  • Assistance for ethanol producers was also included in the December COVID-19 aid package given the sharp decrease in fuel demand due to state-level say-at-home orders.

  • Since the beginning of 2020 through mid-December, the cumulative decline in ethanol production is nearly 2 billion gallons.

  • USDA did not detail how assistance will be delivered, only that support to ethanol producers will occur in the future.

Additional CFAP 2 Sign-Up

  • USDA announced they would also reopen sign-up for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning on April 5, 2021 for agriculture producers who had missed the original deadline.

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