Winneshiek County Development and Tourism (WCDT) is encouraging all Winneshiek County agricultural producers to look into a new program that is designed to help any farmer/producer who suffered losses during the 2020 marketing year due to COVID-19.

The new program administered through the local USDA FSA office is referred to as the “Coronavirus Food Assistance Program” (CFAP).

“This is a $19 million program. Unfortunately, the program name can be confusing.” said Stephanie Fromm, executive director for WCDT. “Some producers have ignored the program thinking it had to do with food distribution and they don’t need food. In reality, although the program will support the Food Box Distribution Program, it also is the program that will provide immediate and direct support to agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted. We know dairy, beef, pork, lamb and other producers in Winneshiek County who have been impacted.”

The USDA website notes the CFAP will provide direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted. The website farmers.gov/cfap CFAP will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs in the 2020 marketing year resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply caused by COVID-19. The CFAP funding is administered through local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices.

Producers must register with FSA to be eligible.

There is no size limit; all agricultural operations are eligible. Applicants who have received other forms of COVID-19 business relief (PPP, EIDL, or other FSA funding) are still eligible. Fromm noted the required forms and program details are on the website but that farms already working with FSA may already have forms on file. She encouraged producers to call the Winneshiek County FSA office once the program opens as they may be able to complete the application by phone. FSA has streamlined the process. USDA has not announced a start date for CFAP (as of release), but producers may call or email FSA for updates.

Fromm noted WCDT will have additional guidance on CFAP on their small business directory, which details all the available programs (winneshiekdevelopment.org). The directory offers a searchable, organized list of available local, state, federal, public and private programs, including grants.

"Farm businesses are a vital part of our economy, and we want to make sure they know about this opportunity,” Fromm said. “We care about our hardworking friends, neighbors and families in agriculture and recognize how important they are to our local and regional economy."