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Pandemic payments to farmers top $30 billion

Farmers and ranchers have received nearly $30.6 billion in coronavirus relief payments in the past 17 months, according to USDA data released on Monday. Pandemic assistance is a major element in farm income this year, as it was in 2020, and is projected to equal one-fourth of net farm income.

The USDA updated its records to show $1.19 billion in “top up” payments to cattle producers. USDA began processing top-up payment for cattle on April 2, but the department waited months before adding those payments to its overall tally under the original version of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The initial CFAP has disbursed a total of $11.792 billion since going into operation in May 2020. Some $18.769 billion has been disbursed through the second iteration of CFAP.

Also on Monday, the USDA said it would issue $1.8 billion to farmers for the 2020 crop year through traditional farm subsidy programs. Farm Service Agency administrator Zach Ducheneaux encouraged farmers to enroll in the safety net programs for 2022 crops. “As we build back better than we were before, we will continue to support our farmers, ranchers, and producers as they overcome the challenges associated with COVID-19, climate change, and other issues,” he said.

Although commodity prices remain high, U.S. net farm income, a measure of wealth, is projected to decline in 2022 with the expiration of the pandemic payments.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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