COVID-19 Funding Opportunities for Farmers

August 11, 2020
Nichole M. Baer

Since March, various entities and political subdivisions have created loan and grant programs to assist businesses and individuals facing COVID-19 related losses and damages.  We have discussed in prior blogs a series of larger programs, such as the Paycheck Protection Program. However, this post focuses on funding opportunities for farmers and ranchers.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Dairy CARES Reimbursement Program

The Dairy CARES Reimbursement Program is designed for Pennsylvania dairy farmers who have experienced financial losses due to discarded or displaced milk during the COVID-19 pandemic during the period of March 6, 2020 through September 30, 2020.  The farmers may apply for payments to reimburse the losses they received.  All dairy farmers who experienced a loss due to discarded or displaced milk are eligible to apply, even those farmers who were assessed a fee by their cooperative for all milk discarded.

Each farm will be entitled to a minimum of $1,500.  Those farmers who experienced losses higher than $1,500 will be entitled to an additional pro-rata share of the remaining funds in the COVID-19 Dairy Assistance Program.  Click here for the Dairy CARES Reimbursement Program application.  

FFFI COVID-19 Relief Fund

The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative (the “FFFI”) is a public-private funding program that invests in new or expanding grocery stores and other healthy food retail outlets in Pennsylvania.  FFFI provides a one-time grant to eligible applicants aimed at increasing access to healthy, affordable food.   In addition to the one-time grant, FFFI created a new fund called the FFFI COVID-19 Relief Fund, which will provide grants to food retail businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Applicants must be entities that operate and provide services in Pennsylvania and have 50% or more of their revenue from the sale of staple and perishable food to consumers or direct to retail.  The business must have operated prior to March 2020 and stayed in operation except for temporary closures due to COVID-19.  The fund will favor entities that serve customers that live in low- to moderate-income areas.  The grants may be used for a variety of expenses, including, but not limited to, infrastructure improvements, equipment purchases, inventory, innovative food access technology, and costs to expand access.

Award amounts will be up to $1 million for large or regional anchor supermarkets, up to $500,000 for full-service traditional grocery stores, and up to $100,000 for neighborhood markets and food enterprises (such as farmers’ markets and urban farms).  Interested applicants may find more information on the FFFI application here.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (the “FSA”) created the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to provide financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who

  • have suffered a 5% or greater price decline or
  • had losses due to market supply chain disruptions as a result of COVID-19.

Eligible commodities include wool, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, and non-specialty crops.  The grant payments are subject to a per person and legal entity payment limitation of $250,000.  Applications for the FDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program are being accepted now through August 28, 2020.

While this post is not comprehensive, the opportunities listed here should provide help to those in the agricultural industry who are struggling during COVID-19. If you would like to talk to one of our attorneys about these or any other programs, contact us anytime.

Nichole Baer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Stetson University, College of Law and practices in several areas, including BusinessCommercial Real EstateEstate Planning, and Estate Administration.