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USDA Reopens CFAP Purchasing Program to Dairy, Shellfish, and Other Farmers with Newly Authorized Federal Funding

April 6, 2021
Press Release
Rep. Courtney has worked successfully to grow CFAP and expand it to eastern CT shellfish farmers

NORWICH, CT – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has officially re-opened the application portal for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) following the authorization of new funding through H.R. 133 and the American Rescue Plan Act. CFAP has provided direct financial support to impacted farmers since it was first authorized under the CARES Act, and last year Rep. Courtney worked successfully to expand eligibility to eastern Connecticut shellfish famers and hemp farmers in “round two” of the purchasing program (CFAP 2). The new guidance confirms that the Biden Administration will extend the same direct support to hemp and aquaculture farmers through use of CFAP 2 eligibility guidelines.

According to USDA, the application portal is live now and will be open for “at least 60 days.” Initial signup for CFAP 2 ended in December. The department noted that awards to eligible farmers and agricultural entities will range from $20,000 to $99,999 for a duration of six months to one year. Click here to learn more.

“There’s a lot more work ahead to help our farmers and fishermen to get back above water and recover from this pandemic, but this announcement from the Biden Administration that next shot in the arm we’ve all been waiting on,” said Rep. Courtney. “The CFAP direct purchasing program is back on the table, and in addition to rolling out $6 billion in recently authorized COVID-19 relief that’s going to give a boost to our dairy farmers and crop growers, President Biden’s USDA made sure that our shellfish and hemp farmers are going to remain eligible for this direct assistance—a huge boost for them that we fought to secure throughout some of the toughest months of 2020. I’ve stayed in close touch with our fishermen and farmers throughout this pandemic, and there’s no doubt that folks are still working hard to battle back. The new support Congress authorized is more fuel in their tanks, and my office is ready to help every single one of our farmers go out and apply for it.”

Rep. Courtney is the Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Dairy Caucus, and has worked throughout the pandemic to assist eastern Connecticut dairy farmers, crop growers, fishermen, shellfish and aquaculture farmers, and others. He successfully pressed the USDA to expand CFAP direct food purchasing to help more Connecticut farmers and to open CFAP to shellfish and hemp farmers. In November 2020, the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association presented Courtney with the CFBA 2020 Legislative Award, which recognizes those who have given an outstanding commitment to Connecticut farmers and the state’s agricultural economy.

This year, Courtney is continuing to press for more support for eastern Connecticut farmers and fishermen. Last week, Rep. Courtney led a delegation of coastal Representatives in writing to President Biden, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in support of the seafood and shellfish industry. After receiving significant input on the needs of local shellfish farmers, fishermen, and other seafood producers, the Members shared feedback with the Biden Administration on how new funding through H.R. 133 and the American Rescue Plan can best be put to use.

In their letter, the members specifically encouraged USDA use newly authorized relief aid to:

  • Focus direct seafood purchasing on American-harvested, American-processed seafood, creating more resiliency in the U.S. seafood sector
  • Help offset retaliatory tariffs by providing fishermen and vessels with direct funding to make up for the losses in rates per-pound, through a model like the Trade Relief Assistance Program
  • Support infrastructure investments for the seafood and shellfish industry—repairs and safety improvements for fishing vessels, dockside equipment to unload and handle catches, refrigeration units for shellfish growers, and more
  • Support local hunger and prepared meal organizations so that they have the packaging capability offer more healthy seafood to Americans during the pandemic through programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
  • Appoint a new seafood point-person to ensure coordination amongst the multitude of federal agencies relevant to the fishing and aquaculture industries
  • Consider regional price differences when purchasing commodities in federal purchasing programs

Click here to read the full letter.