Following the hemp industry’s outcry over exclusion from the last round of COVID-19 relief funding, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it will be administering up to an additional $14 billion to producers—and this time, hemp farmers are eligible.
Applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments (CFAP 2) will open Sept. 21 and close Dec. 11.
The USDA is encouraging producers whose agricultural operations have been impacted by the pandemic since April 2020 to apply for CFAP 2. Payments will be made for three categories of commodities: price trigger commodities, flat-rate crops and sales commodities.
Hemp is included in the flat-rate crop category, along with crops like alfalfa, oats, peanuts, rice and more. These are crops that either did not meet the 5% price decline since the pandemic hit the U.S.—a marker used to determine eligibility for the USDA’s previous round of coronavirus relief funding—or did not have data available to calculate a price change, according to the USDA.
Hemp farmers will be eligible to receive $15 per acre of hemp they grew in 2020.
“We are pleased that the USDA has reversed their previous position on the eligibility of hemp farmers to receive CFAP funds and are grateful for all who supported this comprehensive effort,” said Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, in a statement following the announcement. “Of course, the devil is in the details: Questions remain on how these relief dollars will be calculated. We will remain vigilant to ensure that hemp growers receive the maximum benefits possible.”
U.S. Hemp Roundtable was one organization that argued for hemp’s eligibility in a 23-page letter after the USDA announced its first round of agricultural funding in May. While the USDA excluded hemp for that round, the U.S Hemp Roundtable provided information showing that prices for hemp and its derivatives had declined far more than 5% in that time period.
“We listened to feedback received from farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on our nations’ farms and ranches, and we developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a news release announcing the latest CFAP funding.Hemp farmers can apply for the funding on the USDA’s website. The USDA will also be holding a webinar with more information about the funding at 3 p.m. EDT Sept. 24. Those interested in the webinar can register here.