WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture has begun sending payments to contract producers of eligible livestock and poultry who applied for pandemic assistance.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, provided funding for payments to contract producers of eligible livestock and poultry for revenue losses from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 27, 2020. Contract producers of broilers, pullets, chicken eggs, turkeys, hogs and pigs, ducks, geese, pheasants and quail were eligible for assistance, along with eligible breeding stock and eggs of all eligible poultry types produced under contract. Signup ran from Aug. 24, 2021, through Oct. 12, 2021.

The assistance is part of the USDA’s broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) identified gaps in assistance in the initial program designed to help producers. The improved program, which was released in August, fills these gaps, according to USDA.

“We listened to feedback from producers and stakeholders about impacts across livestock and poultry operations and made updates to be more equitable in the assistance we delivered,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “For contract producers this meant expanding eligibility and providing flexibility such as considering 2018 or 2019 revenue when calculating payments and accounting for contract producers who increased the size of their operation in 2020 or were new to farming when the pandemic hit. Filling these gaps and not letting underserved producers slip through the cracks is a common theme throughout our approach under our Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.”

The Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative has provided a broad range of support to farmers and ranchers, USDA said, including:

  • More than $18.8 billion in Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 payments, including a fourfold increase in participation by historically underserved producers since the program reopened in April 2021.
  • Over $42 million in assistance for those who had to depopulate livestock and poultry due to insufficient processing access (Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program).
  • Over $9 million to date for the logging and log hauling industry (Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers). Final payments are being calculated to be disbursed soon.
  • $1 billion to purchase healthy food for food insecure Americans and build food bank capacity.
  • $350 million in additional dairy assistance related to market volatility.
  • $500 million deployed through existing USDA programs.