Hardin County – Over the past ten weeks, COVID-19 has caused a lot of discomfort for families, businesses, governmental agencies, and civic organizations. It seems as if the only certainty that we have is the fact there is no certainty in this pandemic. We are in uncharted territory and the game plan will continued to be written day by day.
COVID-19 has hit the agricultural industry pretty hard. Market prices for major commodities have fallen sharply since COVID-19 reached the United States back in early January. Milk and cattle prices have declined over 25 percent and corn and hog prices are down 19%. At one time during the pandemic, these prices had dropped over 40 percent. Early projections suggest total net farm income could be down 20% or more over in 2020.
There have been many efforts through federal and state legislation to offset the impact of COVID-19. The details for one such program targeted to help agricultural producers were released last week. This program called Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will provide $19 billion dollars of financial assistance nationally for losses experienced as a result of the pandemic.
So what does this mean for farmers here in Hardin County? First, there is assistance for farmers who raise corn, soybeans, oats, cattle, sheep, hogs or produces milk. Additionally, producers raising certain vegetable and fruit specialty crops are also eligible. The program is designed to help soften the drastic loss of revenue received by farmers when crops and livestock were marketed from mid-January through mid-April. It also provides additional funding to help off-set on-going market disruptions.
Commodities that did not suffer a five percent-or-greater price decline from mid-January 2020 to mid-April 2020 are not eligible for CFAP. Specifically, this includes sheep more than two years old, eggs/layers, soft red and hard red winter wheat, alfalfa, and forage crops. Second, farmers do not have to previously participated in the federal farm program to take part in CFAP.
As examples on the help that will be offered, an eligible dairy producer will receive $4.71 per hundred weight of milk for their milk production from the first quarter of the year plus an additional national adjustment payment. Farmers with corn and soybeans in storage may be eligible for two payment rates together averaging 33.5 cents per bushel for corn and 47.5 cents per bushel for soybeans if they had inventory subject to price risk held as of January 15, 2020.
For cattle marketed from January 15 to April 15, producers are eligible for a one-time payment ranging from $92 to $214 per head. Livestock producers are also eligible for an additional payment of $33 per head for cattle on the farm between April 16 and May 14. Hog and sheep producers are also eligible for payments for the same time periods as well.