CFAP and Fisheries Disaster Funding
The USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) was formally rolled out in the Federal Register last week.
We have finally received guidance that shellfish aquaculture will NOT be eligible to be considered for these funds, despite language in the Federal Register suggesting that “saltwater aquaculture” would be eligible. Despite not being eligible for CFAP relief payments, the USDA has requested that we share data on pricing, sales volume and inventory.
There are several things you need to be aware of regarding the CFAP program.
- to qualify applicants would need to be able to document a wholesale price decline of 5% or more;
- only after you can document a price decline would you be able to be considered for unsold inventory;
- ANY financial data submitted through the Federal Register comment docket portal will become PUBLICLY AVAILABLE;
- there is a perjury clause at the end in section 9.8; and
- farms have until June 22, 2020 to respond to the request for financial data through the Federal Register comment docket.
The ECSGA board of directors met on 5/28/20 to formulate advice for growers regarding CFAP. Since shellfish farmers are not eligible for relief through CFAP, and since filing a comment on the Federal Register docket would make your firm’s financial data public, we do NOT recommend that individuals submit financial data. Instead we strongly recommend that you participate in confidential questionnaires that collect and aggregate data that can document the extent of the industry’s losses to the USDA for future consideration.
We also encourage every farm to make sure they are in the system with their county Farm Service Agency (SFA) office. Register your acreage and get the required paperwork in place so if they decide at a future date that shellfish farmers are eligible for CFAP it will be much easier to apply. Registering your crop acreage with your county FSA office also gets you in the door for Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance (NAP), which is a flawed program, but is very inexpensive (often free), and better than nothing.
Fisheries Disaster Funds
States are currently figuring out how to distribute the Fisheries Disaster Funds that will provide relief to fishermen and aquaculture producers in each state. States have not yet received concrete guidance from the regional fisheries commissions on how those funds should be allocated among the sectors.
We understand that firms that received Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and/or Payroll Protection Loans (grants?) will need to deduct that relief from any payout they receive through the Fisheries Disaster Fund.
We strongly encourage everyone to work with your state fisheries managers to ensure that aquaculture is not forgotten as they develop their “Spend Plan.”