Hemp farmers eligible for new USDA coronavirus relief funds

Despite missing out on earlier funding, hemp farmers are included in a new $14 billion coronavirus relief effort that will provide additional direct assistance for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs, federal agriculture officials announced Friday.

Commodities including hemp are eligible that weren’t eligible in the first iteration of the program, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and farmers whose operations have been impacted by the pandemic since April 2020 are encouraged to apply for assistance.

“America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in an agency statement.

Farmers can sign up for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency county offices beginning Sept. 21 through Dec. 11.

The USDA is using funds made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation and the CARES Act to support farmers of row crops, specialty crops, livestock, dairy, aquaculture and additional commodities.

Hemp is categorized under the Flat-rate Crops group for payments, which according to USDA are crops that either do not meet the 5% price decline trigger or do not have data available to calculate a price change.

Farmers of these crops, including hemp, will have payments calculated based on eligible 2020 acres, multiplied by $15 per acre, with a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity.

A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found on farmers.gov/cfap.

Federal agriculture officials determined last month that hemp farmers did not qualify for a $16 billion fund designated for farmers who saw price drops because of the novel coronavirus because the national aggregated prices for hemp crops decreased only 1% during the first quarter of 2020, versus the 5% or greater decrease in price that made crops eligible for assistance under the first phase of CFAP.