Wallaces Farmer

Top-up payments of $17 per head have not been issued and additional payments on hold for contract growers.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

August 10, 2021

2 Min Read

Iowa and Minnesota legislators sent a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack asking the department to ensure swine producers and contract swine growers are eligible for the pandemic assistance Congress secured for them. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, joined his colleagues Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in the bipartisan push to ensure contract swine growers get access to the pandemic relief they were promised.

On January 15, 2021, USDA announced Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 “top-up” payments for swine producers with approved CFAP 1 applications. Those approved were to automatically receive a top-up payment of $17 per head increasing the total CFAP1 inventory payment to $34 per head. Under the Biden administration, USDA placed this under review and has since provided no update.

In a hearing last week, Ernst questioned a top nominee for the USDA, Robert Bonnie, about the administration excluding contract swine growers from their announcement, requesting an explanation.

Related: New pandemic dollars coming for biofuels, livestock producers

The senators write, “Our livestock and poultry contract growers have been waiting patiently for USDA to provide financial relief that so many desperately need. We’re concerned that USDA’s announcement on June 15 – that described its intent to finalize this program within 60 days – only focused on poultry growers and made no mention of providing assistance to contract swine growers.”

They go on, “We urge you to use all USDA resources at your disposal to make contract swine growers eligible for this emergency assistance provided by Congress and ensure that they are fully aware of their eligibility.”

Late last year, Congress passed a bipartisan COVID relief package that included assistance to contract livestock and poultry producers, as well as to agricultural producers, growers, processors, specialty crops, non-specialty crops, dairy, livestock and poultry. In March, USDA announced $6 billion in available funds would be used to support additional CFAP efforts.

“Additionally, many pork producers have been waiting for USDA to roll out the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program swine top-up payments that was announced in January of this year,” the senators write.

Related: Livestock pandemic aid offers 80% indemnity payments

Certain contract growers are eligible for assistance through CFAP 2 under CFAP Additional Assistance, USDA says. However, the agency adds payments for contract growers are currently on hold and are likely to require modifications to the regulation as part of a broader evaluation. FSA says it will continue to accept applications from interested contract growers during this evaluation period.


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About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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