Ohio farmers hit by coronavirus can apply for USDA funds

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Ohio farmers can now apply for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which provides direct payments to offset impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.

The USDA said in a statement that the application and a payment calculator are now available online, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency staff members are available via phone, fax and online tools to help producers complete applications. The agency set up a call center in order to simplify how they serve new customers across the nation.

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“We know Ohio producers are facing a tough time now, and we are making every effort to provide much needed support as quickly as possible,” Leonard Hubert, state executive director for FSA in Ohio, said in a statement. “FSA is available over the phone and virtually to walk you through the application process, whether it’s the first time you’ve worked with FSA, or if you know us quite well.”

Applications will be accepted through Aug. 28.

Brian Harbage of Clark County told the Dayton Daily News he has never been in such a dire situation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to plummeting crop prices and shuttered processing plants, leaving him with nearly worthless products.“We’re actually going to plant our crop at a loss before we put the first seed in the ground at today’s prices,” Harbage said.

Farmers who raise both crops and livestock are in a difficult situation, Sam Custer, an educator with Ohio State’s Darke County extension, said. As restaurants and schools were shut down by the pandemic, farmers were left with excess product that went to waste. He said some farmers had to dump milk because they weren’t able to send it to suppliers.

USDA is making available $16 billion to farmers with a 5% decline or greater due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.

In order to do this, farmers will receive 80% of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date nation wide, as funds remain available.

Farmers can download the CFAP application and other eligibility forms from farmers.gov/cfap. Also, on that webpage, producers can find a payment calculator to help identify sales and inventory records needed to apply and calculate potential payments.

Additionally, producers in search of one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance.

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