Payments for Blueberry Growers Detailed in Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

On Tuesday, May 19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced updates for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The USDA CFAP for specialty crops is divided into three categories of eligibility: Had crops that suffered a 5% or greater price decline between January 15 and April 15, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19…

On Tuesday, May 19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced updates for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The USDA CFAP for specialty crops is divided into three categories of eligibility:

  1. Had crops that suffered a 5% or greater price decline between January 15 and April 15, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Had produce shipped but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channel.
  3. Had shipments that did not leave the farm or mature crops that remained unharvested.

What does this mean for blueberry growers? ​You’ll be eligible for CFAP payments if you fit into either Categories 2 or 3. Based on USDA’s analysis of national data during the period of January 15 to April 15, blueberries did not incur a 5% decline in price and therefore are not currently eligible for Category 1 payments.

In response to USDA’s announcement, NABC has reached out to USDA to determine what data they need to ensure blueberry growers are included and eligible for Category 1 payments. NABC will be working with state association leadership, growers, handlers and marketers to help provide the necessary information to USDA on the negative impact COVID-19 had on the blueberry industry. For direct updates on NABC’s efforts, sign up for NABC newsletters here.

If your experience matches Categories 2 or 3 detailed above, you’ll be eligible for direct payments if you can provide the required documentation:

● Payments for crop shipments that left the farm by April 15, 2020, and spoiled due to no market. ​You must obtain documentation, such as a letter from the buyer, explaining nonpayment or other record validating nonpayment. This applies to producers who have met contractual obligations in delivering the crop to the buyer, but have not been paid.
● Payments for crop shipments that were harvested but did not leave the farm by April 15, 2020, or mature crops that were unharvested by that date due to lack of buyers, and which have not been and will not be sold. ​When requested, you must provide supporting documentation that the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will use to substantiate claims on a case-by-case basis.

Payment rates differ depending on the loss type. You would receive $0.62/lb for product that left the farm but spoiled due to loss of marketing channel, and $0.12/lb for product that was harvested and did not leave the farm or mature crops that were unharvested.