June 30, 2020
Coronavirus Financial Assistance Program (CFAP) payments to dairy farmers now top $1 billion, according to updated data released by the United States Department of Agriculture June 29.
The dairy payments total $1.045 billion and were made to 17,633 dairy farmers. Based on those numbers, the average payment per farm is just under $60,000.
The payment totals released this week are an increase of $150 million from a week ago, with an additional 2,411 dairy farmers receiving payments.
Wisconsin continues to lead the nation in the number and amount of CFAP payments, with 4,501 Wisconsin dairy farmers receiving more than $224 million in payments. California is second, with $140 million being paid out to 759 of its dairy farmers.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is continuing to lobby USDA to increase payment caps to dairy farmers. “We remain concerned that a strict interpretation [of the payment caps] is hurting the ability of family dairy operations to full benefit from the CFAP, as we continue to hear reports that local Farm Service Agency offices are not accommodating some farm business structures, including those established as trusts,” says Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEP.
Mulhern has written to USDA, asking that the agency expand its interpretation of the three entity/$750,000 total payment limit. The letter reminds USDA that there is no statutory provision to require any payment limitation due to farmers having more complex operating structures.
“We also reiterated our concern that seasonal dairy operations are disadvantaged by the use of the first three months of the year as the production base for the payments,” says Mulhern. “We hope USDA will revise some of the restrictive interpretations being implemented across the country, and if not, it is possible Congress may weigh in to direct the agency to reassess its CFAP procedures.”
Dairy farmers are not the largest group of recipient of CFAP payments, however. Livestock farmers other than dairy have received more than $2.4 billion. Those payment have gone to 238,316 livestock farmers, so the average payment there is about $10,000 per farm.