MADISON, WI (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Farmers now have more details about coronavirus relief aid packages from the federal government and state of Wisconsin.
The United States Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday that farmers could start applying for direct payments starting Tuesday, May 26. They can apply through their local Farm Service Agency office.
The USDA is providing $16 billion in direct payments for farmers in the country in an attempt to soften losses caused by the coronavirus.
“These payments will only cover a portion of that impact of farmers and ranchers, we have a limited pot of money unfortunately and we're making the best of what we can,” said Sandy Chalmers, Wisconsin FSA Director on a video call with dairy producers on Thursday.
Chalmers spoke to dairy farmers on the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin program 'The Dairy Signal.' She told farmers the best thing they could do to accelerate their payments was visit farmers.gov and look ahead of time at application materials they would need.
“Anything you can do to do some homework on your own in advance will shorten up the process and the timeline for you,” Chalmers said.
Farmers are eligible for payments if their commodity has suffered at least a five percent price reduction or it is impacted by supply chain issues. Virtually all commodities have suffered those types of losses. You can check if a crop or commodity is covered here: https://www.farmers.gov/cfap
Payments will be calculated based off of losses in the first few months of this year, individual farmers can get a maximum payment of $250,000.
On Wednesday, Governor Tony Evers announced Wisconsin's coronavirus relief plan for farmers. The state is making $50 million available for direct payments to farmers. They can apply on the Department of Revenue website: https://www.revenue.wi.gov/Pages/home.aspx
The state said farmers could start getting payments as early as June. The money is made available through federal relief dollars provided to states through the CARES Act.
Several farm groups asked for $50 million from Evers in April. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Dairy Business Association, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, Wisconsin Soybean Association, Wisconsin Pork Association, Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association, Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association and Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association released a joint statement thanking the governor.
“We know that these payments will not make up what our farmers have lost financially. However, this assistance will provide support to help them cash flow and continue their vital mission of providing food to our nation during this crisis,” the group said in part. The full statement can be found here: https://badgerbean.com/resources/farmer-aid/
The USDA has started its Farmers to Families Food Box program as well: https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/farmers-to-families-food-box
The $3 billion effort aims to buy food and donate it to food banks in an effort to keep supply chains moving and feed people struggling to get meals.
The state of Wisconsin announced a similar program called the Food Security Initiative. The state plans on using $15 million of its CARES Act money to buy and donate Wisconsin products.
The USDA's press release announcing specifics on coronavirus relief aid can be found on its website: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Wisconsin/news-releases/2020/stnr_wi_20200519_rel_001