Alfalfa now eligible for CFAP 2.0: What you need to know

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
Harvesting alfalfa

Alfalfa is now an eligible crop in the second round of the US Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, for which applications are now open through Dec. 11.

The program has undergone major changes and corrections after the first run-through, the big one being that farmers no longer have to prove a 5% or greater national price decline in their chosen commodity in order to receive aid. Payments are administered by the Farm Service Agency in light of market disruptions due to COVID-19.

You can now simply apply for assistance without worrying about the state of the commodity's market, as long as it is deemed eligible. Be aware that you must grow alfalfa as a product in order to qualify, not just have it for grazing.

If you applied for CFAP before, you are still eligible for the second round of payments. All accepted applications for CFAP 2.0 will be 100% paid out upon acceptance, rather than 80% being paid upfront and 20% later, as with the first round. Nothing will have to be paid back as these are not loans, and if you have any outstanding debts with USDA, you can still apply and receive money – it won't be taken as a payment to any debt.

Alfalfa is listed as a flat-rate crop, which means it hasn't met the 5% price decline trigger that some other CFAP-eligible commodities do. Payments for flat-rate crops are calculated based on the farmer's share of 2020 crops multiplied by $15 per acre.

To be eligible, you must make less than $900,000 a year by adjusted gross income according to tax returns from the last three years or derive 75% of your income from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Payments are limited to one per person or legal entity and are capped at $250,000.

However, certain legal entities may receive more under certain rules – if you're applying for a corporation, limited liability company, limited partnership with corporate entities, trust or estate, you're eligible for up to $500,000 as long as two members contribute at least 400 hours to active personal labor or labor management, and $750,000 if three members contribute 400 hours.

If you've never worked with FSA before, don't worry, just make sure you are prepared with the right documents and details when you go to apply online or over the phone with your local service center. Information like your mailing address, Tax Identification Number, business operations details, Adjusted Gross Income compliance certification and direct deposit information are needed to apply.

If you applied before or have other business with USDA, your information is probably on file, but be sure to make any necessary changes, like in banking or address changes. Also, make sure you've already filled out an acreage report with FSA because you can't determine it yourself.

You have 60 days after submitting your application to make any corrections or changes.

If you have any questions, visit the CFAP 2.0 frequently asked questions page or call USDA the customer service line at 877-508-8364 between 8 am and 8 pm Eastern time. Interpretation is available for those speaking a language other than English.