2021-4-22

After Identifying Gaps in Previous Aid, USDA Announces ‘Pandemic Assistance for Producers’ to Distribute Resources More Equitably

USDA Reopens Program Sign-Up to a Larger Share of Producers with Plans to Expand Outreach and New Programming

Washington, D.C., March 24, 2021 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA is establishing new programs and efforts to bring financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and producers who felt the impact of COVID-19 market disruptions. The new initiative—USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers—will reach a broader set of producers than in previous COVID-19 aid programs. USDA is dedicating at least $6 billion toward the new programs. The Department will also develop rules for new programs that will put a greater emphasis on outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers, timber harvesters, as well as provide support for the food supply chain and producers of renewable fuel, among others. Existing programs like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will fall within the new initiative and, where statutory authority allows, will be refined to better address the needs of producers. 

USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producerswas needed, said Vilsack, after a review of previous COVID-19 assistance programs targeting farmers identified a number of gaps and disparities in how assistance was distributed as well as inadequate outreach to underserved producers and smaller and medium operations. 

“The pandemic affected all of agriculture, but many farmers did not benefit from previous rounds of pandemic-related assistance. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to helping as many producers as possible, as equitably as possible,” said Vilsack. “Our new USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative will help get financial assistance to a broader set of producers, including to socially disadvantaged communities, small and medium sized producers, and farmers and producers of less traditional crops.” 

USDA will reopen sign-up for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning on April 5, 2021. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has committed at least $2.5 million to improve outreach for CFAP 2 and will establish partnerships with organizations with strong connections to socially disadvantaged communities to ensure they are informed and aware of the application process. 

The payments announced today (under Part 3, below) will go out under the existing CFAP rules; however, future opportunities for USDA Pandemic Assistance will be reviewed for verified need and during the rulemaking process, USDA will look to make eligibility more consistent with the Farm Bill. Moving forward, USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers will utilize existing programs, such as the Local Agricultural Marketing Program, Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach, and Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, and others to enhance educational and market opportunities for agricultural producers. 

 USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers – 4 Parts Announced Today

Part 1: Investing $6 Billion to Expand Help & Assistance to More Producers  

USDA will dedicate at least $6 billion to develop a number of new programs or modify existing proposals using discretionary funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act and other coronavirus funding that went unspent by the previous administration. Where rulemaking is required, it will commence this spring. These efforts will include assistance for:

  • Dairy farmers through the Dairy Donation Program or other means:
  • Euthanized livestock and poultry;
  • Biofuels;
  • Specialty crops, beginning farmers, local, urban and organic farms;
  • Costs for organic certification or to continue or add conservation activities
  • Other possible expansion and corrections to CFAP that were not part of today’s announcement such as to support dairy or other livestock producers;
  • Timber harvesting and hauling;
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other protective measures for food and farm workers and specialty crop and seafood producers, processors and distributors;
  • Improving the resilience of the food supply chain, including assistance to meat and poultry operations to facilitate interstate shipment;
  • Developing infrastructure to support donation and distribution of perishable commodities, including food donation and distribution through farm-to-school, restaurants or other community organizations; and
  • Reducing food waste. 

Part 2: Adding $500 Million of New Funding to Existing Programs

USDA expects to begin investing approximately $500 million in expedited assistance through several existing programs this spring, with most by April 30. This new assistance includes:

  • $100 million in additional funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which enhances the competitiveness of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops.
  • $75 million in additional funding for the Farmers Opportunities Training and Outreach program, administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, which encourages and assists socially disadvantaged, veteran, and beginning farmers and ranchers in the ownership and operation of farms and ranches.
  • $100 million in additional funding for the Local Agricultural Marketing Program, administered by the AMS and Rural Development, which supports the development, coordination and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets and enterprises and value-added agricultural products. 
  • $75 million in additional funding for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, administered by the NIFA, which provides funding opportunities to conduct and evaluate projects providing incentives to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers
  • $20 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to improve and maintain animal disease prevention and response capacity, including the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. 
  • $20 million for the Agricultural Research Service to work collaboratively with Texas A&M on the critical intersection between responsive agriculture, food production, and human nutrition and health.
  • $28 million for NIFA to provide grants to state departments of agriculture to expand or sustain existing farm stress assistance programs.
  • Approximately $80 million in additional payments to domestic users of upland and extra-long staple cotton based on a formula set in the Consolidated Appropriations  Act, 2021 that USDA plans to deliver through the Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills program. 

Part 3: Carrying Out Formula Payments under CFAP 1, CFAP 2, CFAP AA

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, enacted December 2020 requires FSA to make certain payments to producers according to a mandated formula. USDA is now expediting these provisions because there is no discretion involved in interpreting such directives, they are self-enacting. 

  • An increase in CFAP 1 payment rates for cattle. Cattle producers with approved CFAP 1 applications will automatically receive these payments beginning in April. Information on the additional payment rates for cattle can be found on gov/cfap. Eligible producers do not need to submit new applications, since payments are based on previously approved CFAP 1 applications. USDA estimates additional payments of more than $1.1 billion to more than 410,000 producers, according to the mandated formula. 
  • Additional CFAP assistance of $20 per acre for producers of eligible crops identified as CFAP 2 flat-rate or price-trigger crops beginning in April. This includes alfalfa, corn, cotton, hemp, peanuts, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugar beets and wheat, among other crops.  FSA will automatically issue payments to eligible price trigger and flat-rate crop producers based on the eligible acres included on their CFAP 2 applications. Eligible producers do not need to submit a new CFAP 2 application. For a list of all eligible row-crops, visit gov/cfap. USDA estimates additional payments of more than $4.5 billion to more than 560,000 producers, according to the mandated formula. 
  • USDA will finalize routine decisions and minor formula adjustments on applications and begin processing payments for certain applications filed as part of the CFAP Additional Assistance program in the following categories: 
  • Applications filed for pullets and turfgrass sod;
  • A formula correction for row-crop producer applications to allow producers with a non-Actual Production History (APH) insurance policy to use 100% of the 2019 Agriculture Risk Coverage-County Option (ARC-CO) benchmark yield in the calculation;
  • Sales commodity applications revised to include insurance indemnities, Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program payments, and Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus payments, as required by statute; and
  • Additional payments for swine producers and contract growers under CFAP Additional Assistance remain on hold and are likely to require modifications to the regulation as part of the broader evaluation and future assistance; however, FSA will continue to accept applications from interested producers. 

Part 4: Reopening CFAP 2 Sign-Up to Improve Access & Outreach to Underserved Producers

As noted above, USDA will re-open sign-up for of CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning on April 5, 2021. 

  • FSA has committed at least $2.5 million to establish partnerships and direct outreach efforts intended to improve outreach for CFAP 2 and will cooperate with grassroots organizations with strong connections to socially disadvantaged communities to ensure they are informed and aware of the application process. 

Please stay tuned for additional information and announcements under the USDA Pandemic Assistance to Producers initiative, which will help to expand and more equitably distribute financial assistance to producers and farming operations during the COVID-19 national emergency. Please visit www.farmers.govfor more information on the details of today’s announcement. 

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean-energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Early voting begins for Virginia June primary

By Sam Fowler, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- The first day of early voting began Friday for the June 8 Virginia primary election. 

Voters will be able to choose candidates in advance of the November state election, including for the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general races. Republican and Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates are also on the ballot.

 Legislators recently changed laws to allow early, in-person and no-excuse absentee voting. A record number of absentee and early votes were cast during the last presidential election, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. Turnout was at its highest since 199, 2.

Voters do not have to fill out an application to vote early. They can go to their voting location and cast a ballot, VDOE stated in a news release. Early, in-person voting remains open until June 5.

 The voter registration deadline for the June primary is May 17. The deadline to request to have an absentee ballot mailed to a residence will be May 28 at 5 p.m.

Nearly half of Virginia’s Democratic voters are backing former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in his second bid to lead the state, according to a report released April 22 by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Newport News-based Christopher Newport University. McAuliffe, according to recent campaign finance reports, also leads the pack in fundraising.

None of the other four Democratic candidates reach double-digit support. Also on the primary ballot are Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (8%); Richmond Sen. Jennifer McClellan (6%); former Prince William Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (5%); and Manassas Del. Lee Carter (1%). The report states that 27% of voters are undecided.

The field for lieutenant governor is also crowded and almost two out of three Democratic voters are undecided, according to the Wason Center. Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, has emerged as the front runner with 12% support.

Attorney General Mark Herring, vying for his third term in the position, currently leads the attorney general race with 42% of Democratic voter support. Herring’s opponent Del. Jerrauld “Jay” Jones, D-Norfolk, has 18% voter support. More than 30% of Democratic voters are undecided about the attorney general race. 

The gubernatorial election could be historic, said Jatia Wrighten, an assistant professor in the political science department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Four Black women are running for governor this year: two Democrats, one independent and a Republican. If any won, they would be the first Black woman to serve as head of any state, Wrighten said. 

“What is so very different right now in Virginia is that you're not only looking at one very competent, very viable, Black woman for the governorship, there's two [Democratic] women running,” Wrighten said.

Wrighten doesn’t believe there will be an uptick in early voting.

 “I don't think there's going to be [an] even larger increase from November but it is possible that maybe the rates stay the same,” Wrighten said. 

A record number of Democrats in the House of Delegates face a challenge from within their own party this year, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. 

The 2020 Virginia General Assembly session marked the first time since 1994 that the Democrats controlled both chambers of the General Assembly along with the governor’s office. Virginia has shifted from a red to a blue state, which could be due to a change in demographics, especially around Northern Virginia, Wrighten said. 

The Republican party will hold a statewide convention on May 8. The party will determine its candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general by ranked choice voting among participating delegates. 

Early voters must bring an acceptable ID to vote in person. They also can request an absentee ballot through the Virginia Department of Elections website or return an absentee ballot request by mail, fax, or email. 

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

Judith R. Smith

May 29, 1948-April 22-2021

Graveside Services

2 p.m. Monday, April 26

Community Center Baptist Church Cemetery
2360 Ridgecrest Rd
Halifax, NC 27839.

 

Judith R. Smith, 72, of Emporia, passed away Thursday, April 22, 2021. She was preceded in death by her husband, Woodie Smith and a son, Brian Keith Anderton.

Mrs. Smith spent her career as a Registered Nurse at Avis B. Adams Convalescent Center for nearly 40 years. She loved all animals and was most fond of the many cats she cared for at her home.

Mrs. Smith is survived by her son, Michael “Tony” Anderton (Brandy); sister, Marilyn Riggan and brother, Kenneth Riggan (Kathy).

The funeral service will be held graveside 2 p.m. Monday, April 26 at Community Center Baptist Church Cemetery, 2360 Ridgecrest Rd, Halifax, NC 27839.

Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com.

Haywood “Woody” D. Jones

July 15, 1937 - April 18, 2021

Visitation Services

Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 1:00PM

Echols Funeral Home
806 Brunswick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia

Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 2:00PM

Echols Funeral Home
806 Brunswick Avenue
Emporia, Virginia

Haywood “Woody” D. Jones passed away unexpectedly at the age of 83 on Sunday, April 18, 2021, at St. Mary’s Hospital, Richmond, Virginia.

Woody was born on July 15, 1937 in Salisbury, North Carolina. In 1955 he joined the United States Air Force where he served our Country for twenty years as an Early Warning Radar Technician. Despite no longer serving in uniform, his patriotism and faithful service to our nation, our flag, and all those still serving ran strong. Following retirement Woody farmed for his ‘other brother’ R.J. “Bobby” Ferguson and enjoyed spending his time working on construction projects and woodworking special keepsake items for the family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents,  Charlie Denson Jones and Thelma Jones Stokes, his  sisters Jean Kraft, Grace Anderson (Ronald), and brother Wayne (Phyllis) and one Niece and two Nephews.     

Woody is survived by his beloved and loving wife; Martha E. Jones, Son; Terry Brown (Kelley) of Colleyville, Texas,  Sister; Charleen Shoemaker of Faith, North Carolina. Sister-In-Law; Carolyn E. Roach (David). Grandchildren; Katherine Rose and Abigail Ann Brown of Colleyville, Texas. Niece; Lori R. Jarratt (Timmy). Nephew; Jeffrey C. Roach (Jackie). Great-Niece; Carleigh Jarratt, all of Emporia. He is also survived by numerous Nieces and Nephews. Woody will also be forever remembered by his extended family and dear friends.

Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 2:00PM at Echols Funeral Home with Rev. Rick Regan officiating. Burial will follow in Emporia Cemetery. The family will receive friends Thursday beginning at 1:00PM until the time of the service.

Donations can be made to Greensville Volunteer Rescue Squad or Lifestar Ambulance Service.

Online condolences may be left at echolsfuneralhome.com.

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