USDA plans to spend $6B; $4B more to come

April 8, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an initiative called USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers, saying that “after identifying gaps in previous aid,” it would spend “at least $6 billion” to reach “a broader set of producers.”

The $6 billion comprises funds remaining from previous programs and earlier appropriations. It does not include up to $4 billion that Congress provided for commodity purchases and other programs in the recent American Rescue Plan Act. USDA announced four parts of Pandemic Assistance for Producers:

Part 1: Expanded assistance

USDA officials say several of the programs in this category will require rulemaking, which could be weeks or months away. Programs include assistance for:

  • Euthanized livestock and poultry - details remain to be seen. In some versions, compensation would only be granted where the euthanasia resulted from slaughter plants being closed;
  • Biofuels;
  • Costs for organic certification or to continue or add conservation activities;
  • Other possible expansion and corrections to Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that were not part of the announcement such as to support dairy or other livestock producers;
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other protective measures for food and farm workers and specialty crop and seafood producers, processors and distributors;
  • Improving the resilience of the food supply chain, including assistance to meat and poultry operations to facilitate interstate shipment; and
  • Developing infrastructure to support donation and distribution of perishable commodities, including food donation and distribution through farm-to-school, restaurants or other community organizations.

Part 2: Funding for existing programs

USDA will “begin investing approximately $500 million” in a wide range of existing programs, all of which are listed in the department’s press release. One item relevant to the egg industry is “$20 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.”

Part 3: Formula payments

Congress mandated certain changes in existing producer assistance programs to be implemented by USDA.

Part 4: Re-opening CFAP 2 signup

USDA re-opened sign up for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) on April 5 for “at least 60 days” and will accept “new and modified” applications. Eggs and egg products are eligible for payments. For eggs, payments are equal to 75 percent of 2019 production.

Pullets are also eligible for payments based on a percentage of the producer’s sales of pullets.

More Funding Ahead

In addition to the variety of USDA Pandemic Assistance programs to Producers, USDA has also been instructed by Congress to spend $4 billion on “food supply and agriculture pandemic response.” Much of this funding is to purchase and donate commodities and eggs are specifically required to be purchased under the law. There is also funding for animal health and $100 million to reduce overtime costs for “small and very small” meat, poultry and egg product plants. (Under Food Safety and Inspection Service definitions, small plants have more than 10 but fewer than 500 employees, while very small plants have fewer than 10). USDA will have to issue regulations to implement the new assistance, so it will likely be some time before the department announces details.

See “After Identifying Gaps in Previous Aid, USDA Announces ‘Pandemic Assistance for Producers’ to Distribute Resources More Equitably,” for the full announcement.