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Courtney Provides Updates on New USDA Financial Assistance Opportunities for Shellfish, Hemp, and Other Eastern Connecticut Farmers

September 21, 2020
Press Release

NORWICH, CT – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) issued updated information for eastern Connecticut shellfish, hemp, dairy, and other farmers regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “round two” of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2). Last Friday, after months of pushing USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to expand federal assistance to Connecticut shellfish farmers, Courtney announced that USDA had finally made shellfish farmers eligible for financial assistance through CFAP. The announcement—which also granted CFAP eligibility to Connecticut hemp farmers for the first time—came on the heels of Courtney and the Connecticut Congressional delegation’s most recent letter to USDA, led by Rep. Courtney last week, pressing the Department to provide assistance through CFAP and other federal purchasing programs.

 “Late last week, we finally got the update from USDA that we’ve been looking for on behalf of our Connecticut shellfish farmers, hemp farmers, and many others,” said Congressman Courtney. “Not only did the Department finally open up CFAP to aquaculture farmers, but they also changed their tune on hemp, making new purchasing assistance available to folks in eastern Connecticut who took a chance on this new industry and were blindsided by COVID-19. CFAP was authorized on a bipartisan basis, and it offers a chance for real financial assistance. My office is ready to help any and all of our farmers who are interested in applying for these new funds.”

CFAP was authorized through the bipartisan CARES Act to provide direct financial relief to farmers and agricultural producers impacted by market disruptions brought on by COVID-19. Rep. Courtney is the Co-Chairman of the Congressional Dairy Caucus, and has fought to expand more federal assistance to eastern Connecticut dairy, hemp, shellfish, and other farmers since USDA first opened “round one” of the program (CFAP 1) in May. Click here to learn more about the numerous efforts Rep. Courtney has led in support of eastern Connecticut shellfish farmers.

 Signup for CFAP 2 begins today, September 21st, and runs through December 11th. Rep. Courtney provided updates for eastern Connecticut farmers on the new provisions of CFAP 2, including:

Financial Relief for Connecticut Shellfish Farmers

CFAP 2 authorizes new payments for Connecticut aquaculture farmers. Payments for aquaculture eligible for CFAP 2 will be based on the producer’s 2019 sales of eligible commodities in a declining block format using the following payment factors, and will be equal to the amount of the producer’s eligible sales in calendar year 2019, multiplied by the payment rate for that range:

 

2019 Sales Range

Percent Payment Factor for the Producer’s 2019 Sales

of Eligible Commodities Falling in the Range

$0—$49,000

10.6%

$50,000—$99,000

9.9%

$100,000—$499,999

9.7%

$500,000—$999,999

9.0%

Sales over $1 million

8.8%

 

Payments for aquaculture producers who began farming in 2020 and had no sales in 2019 will be based on the producer’s actual 2020 sales as of the producer’s application date.

Hemp Farmers Now Eligible for Assistance

USDA has announced that hemp farmers will be eligible for financial assistance through CFAP 2. USDA excluded hemp as an eligible row crop in CFAP 1, citing that “While the national price did decrease during the first quarter of 2020, it was only a 1 percent decrease, which did not meet the 5 percent or greater decrease in price for CFAP eligibility.”

Under CFAP 2, hemp is included for eligible producers of row crop commodities categorized as flat-rate crops. Payments for eligible row crops included in the flat-rate payment category will be equal to eligible acres of the crop multiplied by a rate of $15 per acre. Eligible acres include the producer’s share of the determined acres, or reported acres if determined acres are not present, excluding prevented planted and experimental acres. Click here to learn more.

Continued Support for Eastern Connecticut Dairy Farmers

USDA has authorized a second round of CFAP assistance to dairy producers.

Payments for cow milk will be equal to the sum of the following:

  • The producer’s total actual milk production from April 1, 2020, to August 31, 2020, multiplied by the payment $1.20 per hundredweight; and
  • The producer’s estimated milk production from September 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020, based on the daily average production from April 1, 2020, through August 31, 2020, multiplied by 122, multiplied by a payment rate of $1.20 per hundredweight.

Dairy operations applying for CFAP 2 must be in the business of producing and commercially marketing milk at the time of application. Dairy operations that dissolve or have dissolved on or after September 1, 2020, are eligible for a prorated payment for the number of days the dairy operation commercially markets milk from September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. Dairy operations that dissolve before September 1, 2020, are ineligible for CFAP 2 payments.

For more information on CFAP 2 eligibility and methods of payment, click here.

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