U.S. announces new $14B farmer aid, expands eligible specialty crops

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U.S. announces new $14B farmer aid, expands eligible specialty crops

The USDA has released details of a second round of Covid-19 aid for farmers, which will pay up to US$14 billion to growers of major crops.

It also adds nearly 100 specialty crops like honey, ginger and macadamia nuts. In addition, it eases restrictions on aid for such crops that farmers said limited the benefits of the previous payment program.

The announcement comes after President Donald Trump talked about the aid package at a campaign rally Thursday evening in Wisconsin. The president said his administration was providing an additional $13bn to producers.

The USDA announcement on Friday was $1bn higher than the president said at his rally. The USDA said signup for the new Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) would begin Sept. 21, with applications to be accepted through Dec. 11, 2020.

The first CFAP package for coronavirus-related losses before April 15 has so far paid out $9.9bn to 621,919 farmers.

The new aid package comes as the USDA has highlighted farm income is rising, mainly because of government aid. USDA forecasts overall net farm income at $102.7bn for 2020, the highest since 2014. But USDA also projects that government aid would account for roughly 36% of net farm income for producers.

The USDA said funding for CFAP 2 will come from the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) and the CARES Act. Changes have been made to CFAP 2 to cover a broader set of agricultural products than the first round of aid, USDA stated.

"This program provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will be compensated for ongoing market disruptions and assisted with the associated marketing costs," USDA stated.

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