USDA suspends CFAP payments for regulatory review
Citing a White House memo freezing decisions made late in the Trump administration for regulatory review, the Agriculture Department has announced it has suspended the processing and payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program — Additional Assistance and has halted implementation until further notice, according to an announcement on the CFAP website.
USDA Farm Service Agency local offices will continue to accept applications during the evaluation period, the announcement said.
“In coming days, USDA and the Biden administration intend to take additional steps to bring relief and support to all parts of food and agriculture during the coronavirus pandemic, including by ensuring producers have access to the capital, risk management tools, disaster assistance, and other federal resources,” the announcement concluded.
Incoming Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Thursday that she agrees with the idea “of pausing and reviewing” the CFAP spending.
Stabenow said that, as someone who wrote the CARES Act, there were things that Congress told USDA “that they should do that they did not do.”
“I very much want to see them evaluate, look at what we wrote into the law that has not been acted upon,” she said. “I want to make sure every dollar is spent in the most effective way to feed people and help farmers.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a news release that payments should be resumed as quickly as possible.
“The pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on American agriculture, and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program has provided a lifeline for farmers and ranchers across the country,” Duvall said.
“Many growers who previously did not qualify for assistance continue to suffer losses and need the help CFAP provides.”
“We recognize the new administration’s desire to review important farmer and rancher assistance programs and we urge USDA to take into consideration our comments on how to improve such programs,” he said, “We appreciate that CFAP applications will continue to be accepted, and we encourage the swift resumption of distribution of resources to the people who are working to keep America’s pantries stocked.”
Duvall referred to a letter that Farm Bureau sent to USDA officials on Jan. 21, a day after President Biden took office making suggestions on how the Biden administration should use the remaining CFAP resources.
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