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Farmer Resources

USDA Announces Coronavirus Food Assistance Program: USDA is accepting applications now through August 28, 2020. Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap.

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Q: I am an Approved Insurance Provider. Where do I find information on flexibilities related to the federal crop insurance program?

A: USDA's Risk Management Agency is working with those insurance providers to provide additional flexibilities in response to COVID-19. Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) can find additional information, including Manager's Bulletins and frequently asked questions at rma.usda.gov/en/News-Room/Continuing-Interest/Coronavirus-Resources.

Q: I am a farmer with federal crop insurance coverage. Where do I find information on flexibilities related to the federal crop insurance program?

A: Producers can continue to work with their Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) on policies, claims, and agreements. Farmers with crop insurance questions or needs should continue to contact their insurance agents about conducting business by telephone or email.

USDA's Risk Management Agency is working with those insurance providers to provide additional flexibilities in response to COVID-19, including:

  • Enabling producers to send notifications and reports electronically
  • Extending the date for production reports
  • Providing additional time and deferring interest on premium and other payments
  • Authorizing replant self-certification
  • Waiving the witness signature requirement for approval of Assignments of Indemnity
  • Allowing dumped milk to be counted as milk marketings for the Dairy Revenue Protection or actual marketings for the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy programs
  • Allowing phone and electronic transactions for 2021 crop year sales and reporting dates, including options and endorsements
  • Extending the deadline for some perennial crop Pre-Acceptance Inspection Reports (PAIRs)
  • Waiving the 2021 crop year inspection requirements for the Nursery and Nursery Value Select (NVS) programs in certain cases.
  • Authorizing AIPs to allow organic producers to report acreage as certified organic, or transitioning to organic, for the 2020 crop year if they can show they have requested a written certification from a certifying agent by their policy’s acreage reporting date.

More information is available on farmers.gov/coronavirus.

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Q: Are program signups still occurring, even if Service Centers are not open to the public?

A: USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are continuing to receive and process applications for key programs, including:

  • Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs (deadline for 2020 is June 30);
  • Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus and other disaster assistance programs; and
  • FSA and NRCS conservation programs.

Producers can also still receive assistance with conservation planning and acreage reporting. More information is available on farmers.gov/coronavirus as well as farmers.gov/program-deadlines.

Q: How do I apply for aid available through the CARES Act?

A: On May 19, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning May 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses. Program details are specific to agricultural commodities and can be found at www.farmers.gov/CFAP.

Q: I have a Marketing Assistance Loan through USDA. Do I have more time to repay it?

A: Producers now have more time to repay Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL), as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. The loans now mature at 12 months rather than nine, and this flexibility is available for most commodities.

More information is available on farmers.gov/coronavirus.

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Q: Will quality grading and inspection services continue?

A: AMS continues to provide critical inspections and grading services. AMS is ensuring the health and safety of USDA employees while still providing the timely delivery of the services to maintain the movement of America’s food supply from farms to forks. If needed, AMS is prepared to remedy any possible disruptions in services.

Q: Should I be concerned about allowing a grader into my facility?

A: All USDA employees have received guidance on protocols, preventative measures and mitigation guidelines regarding COVID-19. USDA guidance is consistent with CDC guidance. AMS is ensuring the health and safety of USDA employees while still providing the timely delivery of the services to maintain the movement of America’s food supply from farms to forks. As always, AMS in-plant personnel, including quality graders and inspectors are instructed to stay home if they are ill. In addition, employees who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether at the workplace, their home or other, have also been instructed to stay home.

Q: Will auditing services continue?

A: AMS continues to provide auditing and accreditation services. If needed, AMS is prepared to remedy any possible disruptions in services.

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On March 27th, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This package appropriated $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP is a guaranteed loan program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The purpose of the program is to support small businesses and help support their payroll during the coronavirus situation.

Q: Are agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers eligible for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

A: Agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers with 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States are eligible.

Farms are eligible if: (i) the farm has 500 or less employees, OR (ii) it fits within the revenue-based sized standard, which is on average annual receipts of $1M.

Additionally, farms can qualify for PPP if it meets SBA’s “alternative size standard.” The “alternative size standard” is currently: (1) a maximum net worth of the business not more than $15 million, AND (2) the average net income Federal income taxes of the business for the two full fiscal years before the date of the application be not more than $5 million.

Q: Are agricultural and other forms of cooperatives eligible for PPP?

A: As long as other eligibility requirements are met, small agricultural cooperatives may receive PPP loans. Other forms of cooperatives may be eligible provided they comply with all other Loan Program Requirements (as defined in 13 CFR 120.10).

Q: Do H-2A or H-2B workers on my payroll count towards my eligibility and total possible loan amount?

A: Only employees with a principal place of residence in the U.S. count toward eligibility and calculation of the PPP loan amount.

Q: How do sole proprietor farmers provide accurate documentation regarding payroll, when they may not take a traditional salary?

A: SBA requires sole proprietors, independent contractors, and other eligible self-employed individuals to provide documentation to its lender that the business was in operation as of February 15, 2020. This documentation may include payroll processor records, payroll tax filings, or Form 1099-MISC, or income and expenses from a sole proprietorship. For borrowers that do not have any such documentation, the borrower must provide other supporting documentation to its lender, such as bank records, sufficient to demonstrate the qualifying payroll amount.

Documentation options for payroll tax filings include the following:

IRS Form 941 (quarterly wages); IRS Form 944 (calendar year wages); State income, payroll and unemployment insurance filings; QuickBooks; bank repository accounts; and/or internally generated profit and loss statements. However:

  • Nonprofit organizations must include IRS Form 990;
  • Sole proprietors must include IRS Form 1040 Schedule C;
  • Any entity that filed IRS Form 1099-MISC must include this form;
  • Seasonal employers must document the period beginning February 15, 2019 through June 30, 2019

More extensive FAQs can be found at the Treasury Department’s CARES Act website (PDF, 50 KB).

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Q: What agency should I contact if I believe I have not received a fair price for my livestock or I suspect packers are depressing or manipulating livestock prices?

A: The AMS Packers and Stockyards Division monitors industry activities and reviews and investigates to determine whether regulated entities are complying with the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) and regulations. AMS encourages farmers, ranchers and other producers, consumers, and members of the livestock, meat, and poultry industries to report incidents of a) slow, insufficient, or non-payment for livestock, meat, or poultry, b) potential antitrust practices, or c) unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent practices by packers, stockyards, livestock market agencies or livestock dealers. See the P&S Act Fact Sheet (PDF, 398 KB) for a more complete description of the practices subject to AMS's enforcement.

Any person can report violations or suspected violations and abuses in the livestock, meat, and poultry industries to the AMS Packers and Stockyards Division at psdcomplaints@usda.gov.

AMS Market News does not have any regulatory authority over industry or market activities.

Q: What agency should I contact if I suspect price manipulation or discriminatory pricing associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for meat or poultry commodities at the wholesale level?

A: The AMS Packers and Stockyards Division monitors industry activities and conducts regulatory compliance reviews and investigations to determine whether subject persons and firms are complying with the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) and regulations. You should contact the AMS Packers and Stockyards Division at psdcomplaints@usda.gov.

Q: What agency should I contact if I suspect price fixing, bid rigging, market allocation, or other fraudulent and illegal schemes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for other wholesale commodities such as eggs, dairy, or produce?

A: If these commodities are part of interstate commerce, you should contact the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission. More information can be found at www.justice.gov and www.ftc.gov. You may submit a complaint directly to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division at www.justice.gov/atr/citizen-complaint-center.

Q: What agency should I contact if I suspect price gouging associated with the COVID-19 pandemic at the retail level for consumers?

A: In this case, you should contact your state Attorney General’s office. More information can be found at www.consumerresources.org which provides a host of consumer protection information from the state and territory attorneys general, including actions attorneys general are taking to protect consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Justice created a task force (PDF, 405 KB) to address COVID-19-related market manipulation, hoarding, and price gouging. More information about the Department of Justice’s efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Q: Who should I contact if I suspect price manipulation in the markets for grain or livestock commodities that are traded in the futures markets?

A: The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) conducts futures market surveillance as part of the market oversight mission. You can find more information at www.cftc.gov/coronavirus.

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Q: Does Coronavirus delay implementation of the China Phase One Deal?

A: The U.S. Trade Representative, which is responsible for implementing the Phase One trade agreement, has had no conversations like this with our Chinese counterparts. We expect that the Chinese will meet their commitments under the agreement.

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Q: How do I file my acreage report?

A: Acreage reporting is key to eligibility for many USDA programs, including crop insurance, safety net, disaster assistance, farm loan, and conservation programs. While our Service Centers are currently open by phone or virtual appointments only, USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) can still work with you on timely filing your acreage report. Typically, this process occurred in person, but right now, FSA staff will provide acreage reporting assistance through phone, email, and virtual meetings like Microsoft Teams.

FSA offices and producers are currently using the following methods to obtain maps and finalize signatures on acreage reports completed as a result of information provided on the maps:

  • Through a physical “drop box” located at or near the local USDA Service Center,
  • Electronically via email, or
  • Through mail.

To file a crop acreage report, you need:

  • An FSA map of your farm or ranch and your tract and field numbers,
  • The intended use of your crops,
  • The number of acres of crops you are reporting,
  • Approximate crop boundaries, planting patterns and dates, irrigation practices, producer shares, and other information as directed by the local Service Center.

Acreage reporting dates can vary by crop and by county. Contact the FSA office at your local USDA Service Center for details in your county, and visit farmers.gov/coronavirus for more information.

Q: Can I conduct my USDA business without having to physically come to a Service Center?

A: USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible. Field work, including conservation planning assistance, will continue with appropriate social distancing.

Online services are available to producers with a Level 2 eAuthentication account, which provides access to the farmers.gov portalConservation Client Gateway and FSAfarm+. Available services include:

  • View loan information, history, and payments for USDA farm loans.
  • Track NRCS payments, report completed practices, request conservation assistance, and electronically sign certain NRCS documents.

Customers who do not already have an eAuth account can enroll by selecting the “Sign In | Sign Up” on farmers.gov. This page provides step-by-step instructions for creating an account.

Q: What do I do if I have questions on USDA farm programs?

USDA Service Centers are currently open for business by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible.

Updated information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Risk Management Agency programs and services can be found on farmers.gov/coronavirus.

Loan payments can be mailed to the FSA office at your local USDA Service Center.

Q: Are Service Centers open to the public?

A: All USDA Service Centers are currently open for business by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible. Field work, including conservation planning assistance, will continue with appropriate social distancing. Producers can find their Service Center’s phone number at farmers.gov/service-center-locator.

Q: How will this impact my local office and the services I need to receive?

A: USDA staff are available to continue helping agricultural producers with program signups, loan servicing, conservation planning assistance, and other important actions. Producers can continue to apply for farm loan, disaster assistance, safety net, and conservation programs as well as crop insurance.

Additionally, USDA is adding flexibilities for farm loans and crop insurance and working to implement new assistance opportunities available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. More information is available on farmers.gov/coronavirus.

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