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Hoeven Discusses Final Direct Assistance with N.D. Farmers
North Dakota Ag Connection - 05/29/2020

Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, Thursday held a video conference with North Dakota producers and commodity groups on implementation of the $16 billion in direct agriculture assistance provided under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Hoeven is encouraging farmers and ranchers to contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices by phone or e-mail as soon as possible to begin the application process, which is open through Aug. 28.

USDA hopes to have these assistance payments out beginning in early to mid-June. Producers initially will receive 80 percent of their payment, with the remaining 20 percent being issued later in the year. Payment limits will be set at $250,000 per individual. Additional information, including application forms and eligible crops, can be found at: www.farmers.gov/cfap.

"Our farmers and ranchers continue to face real challenges, and these direct payments are a good step towards addressing the needs in farm country," said Hoeven. "With the application period now underway, it's vital that producers start working with their local FSA offices as soon as possible. At the same time, more needs to be done. That's why we're working to build on the $14 billion in CCC funding that will be in place in July and secure additional assistance during this fiscal year."

Thurday's video conference comes as part of a series of meetings Hoeven has held on the federal government's coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response to ensure North Dakotans are best able to access assistance. This includes two recent discussions with the state's producers to gather input, prior to the release of the final rules for USDA's direct assistance last week.

Hoeven also stressed on multiple occasions, with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky and Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach, the need to move the program forward for producers impacted by low commodity prices, like cattle producers.

The $16 billion in direct payments for farmers and ranchers was funded using the $9.5 billion emergency funding that Hoeven secured in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and $6.5 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funding.

Hoeven also secured a $14 billion replenishment of CCC, which will be available in July to assist farmers and ranchers, under the CARES Act. The CCC is the primary funding source for most farm programs, including Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage, the Livestock Forage Program and the Market Facilitation Program. The extra authority will support USDA's efforts to mitigate the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on agriculture producers.

During negotiations on the CARES Act, Hoeven worked to ensure support for farm country, including leading a Senate colloquy to outline the importance of the provisions after the original legislation was blocked from advancing. Hoeven also worked with the American Farm Bureau to organize a letter of support from agriculture groups across rural America.

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