Arkansas farmers and ranchers have received more than $86 million in Coronavirus Food Assistance Program direct payments as of Monday, according to a report released Monday.
The payments are designed to provide relief to eligible farmers and ranchers facing financial losses due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The payments are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $16 billion financial aid package to farmers.
Arkansas’ share was 1.5 percent of total payments made nationwide. Arkansas ranks 22nd among the recipients of CFAP money. As of June 15, Iowa was the top recipient of CFAP funds from all categories with $318.99 million. Alaska received zero dollars in funding.
Scott Stiles, extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said that nearly 75 percent — $64.66 million — of the approved CFAP payments in Arkansas went to livestock producers, while nearly 23 percent, or $19.61 million, went to non-specialty crops, which include spring wheat, soybeans, cotton and corn. Rice and winter wheat were excluded from the program. Specialty crop producers received $1.27 million, while dairy farmers accounted for less than $1 million, at $807,587.
Livestock producers in Arkansas also submitted the most applications to the program, more than 11,000. The livestock category includes cattle, hogs and sheep. In 2018, the latest figures available, Arkansas cattle and calves were a $480 million business and the state ranked No. 10 in the nation in beef cattle.
COVID has not been gentle on beef producers, hitting production facilities early on and backing up cattle sales.
“What’s mainly behind the high number of applications is that anyone who sold or owned inventory of cattle between Jan. 15 and May 14 of this year is eligible for some kind of direct payment under CFAP,” said John Anderson, head of the Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness department for the Division and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. “Basically, every cattle operation in the state is eligible.”
Eligible farmers and ranchers may apply for CFAP direct payments through county USDA Farm Service Agency offices until Aug. 28. More information on the CFAP program and the application process may be found at farmers.gov/cfap.