Coronavirus payments to farmers near $18 billion

The payments account for half of the record-large federal supports being paid to agriculture this year.

The Trump administration wrote $7.6 billion in coronavirus checks to farmers in the past four weeks, pushing the total for relief payments to nearly $18 billion since the pandemic struck in the spring. The payments account for half of the record-large federal supports being paid to agriculture this year.

“America’s agriculture communities are resilient but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Monday. So far, average payment under the initial version of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program was $15,877 and under the new iteration, known as CFAP2, $17,231, according to USDA data.

CFAP2, which covers losses since mid-April and is available to a wider range of commodities than the original program, began making payments on Sept. 21 and paid $7.636 billion to 443,126 applicants in its first month. Up to $14 billion is available.

The original CFAP, focused on commodity disruption from early this year into April, has paid $10.3 billion to 648,893 applicants.

Direct federal payments to farmers will total a record $37 billion this year, according to USDA estimates. Other analysts say the figure will be higher, perhaps $46 billion, depending on how much money is distributed through CFAP2 and whether all of it is paid before the end of the year. Federal subsidies are expected to provide at least 36% of net farm income this year.

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