September Policy Updates
By Mark Schonbeck & Francesca Constantino
USDA announces $50 million in grants for Racial Equity and Justice Conservation Cooperative Agreements
USDA will invest up to $50 million in grants through Racial Justice and Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements for two-year projects that expand the delivery of conservation assistance to beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers interested in climate-smart agriculture and forestry. Tribal governments and organizations, nonprofit organizations, private and public institutions of higher education and individuals who provide outreach assistance to these groups are eligible to apply. Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on October 25, 2021. See announcement for details and application instructions. National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) submitted comments to USDA during the recent public comment period. Click here for details.
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2), which assists producers who faced market disruptions in 2020 due to COVID-19, is part of USDA’s broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. A complete list of all eligible sales-based commodities can be found at farmers.gov/cfap2/commodities. Newly eligible producers who need to submit a CFAP 2 application or producers who need to modify an existing one can do so by contacting their local FSA office. Producers can find their local FSA office by visiting farmers.gov/service-locator and get one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364. All new and modified CFAP 2 applications are due by the Oct. 12 deadline.
USDA Invests $700 million in Grants to Provide Relief to Farm and Food Workers Impacted by COVID-19
$700 million in competitive grant funding will be available through the new Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program to help farmworkers and meatpacking workers with pandemic-related health and safety costs. For more information about upcoming webinars, grant eligibility, and program requirements, visit the FFWR webpage at, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NSAC’s policy brief provides insights on options to finance the significant investments needed to address the backlog at small-scale slaughter and processing facilities needed for access to local and regional markets by small family farmers and ranchers across the country.
The Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant Program provides funding to help small specialty crop producers, food processors, manufacturers, distributors and farmers markets recover costs incurred by responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including for measures to protect workers. Grants amounts are from $1,500 up to $20,000. Application period opens on September 23, 2021 and closes on November 8, 2021.
Whether you grow almonds or apples, peppers or prunes, crop insurance options are available to you. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) administers Federal crop insurance that protects 76 specialty crops, and new insurance options are now available for specialty crop and organic producers. RMA has specialty crop liaisons available to assist specialty crop producers.
USDA has accepted 2.8 million acres in offers from agricultural producers and private landowners for enrollment into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in 2021. The Continuous Signup remains open, so USDA expects to enroll more acres into all of CRP than the 3 million acres that are expiring. Continuous CRP allows USDA to target the most sensitive land – highly erodible, most environmentally beneficial (wetlands and buffers along streams and rivers), or critical habitat.
USDA is providing additional time for livestock and poultry producers to apply for the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program (PLIP). Producers who suffered losses during the pandemic due to insufficient access to processing may now apply for assistance for those losses and the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animals through the new Oct. 12, 2021 deadline by completing the FSA-620, Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program application, and submitting it to any FSA county office. Additional documentation may be required. Visit farmers.gov/plip for more information on how to apply.
- USDA Seeking Public Comments on Proposed Changes to the National List for Organic Crops, Livestock and Handling through October 25, 2021
USDA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to amend the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for crops, livestock and handling to remove several substances and nonorganic ingredients involved in organic production and handling. USDA welcomes comments on the proposed amendments and the expected timeframe needed for organic operations to implement the proposed changes. NOP has a microlearning module that provides guidance on how to write an effective public comment here. More information on the National List National List, including how and why substances are added or removed from it, is available here.
- USDA Seeks Comment on Ways to Help Rural Businesses Produce and Market Value-Added Products
USDA’s Rural Development is seeking input on ways to make it easier for rural businesses to produce and market value-added agricultural products. More information on the stakeholder announcement and how to provide input here. USDA will hold a virtual listening session on these topics on Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Interested parties may register here.