WADDELL, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Farmers and ranchers in Arizona suffering from the financial impact of COVID-19 could soon see some relief. The United States Department of Agriculture is rolling out a new aid program for farms hit by the coronavirus. It's called the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and it'll provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers affected by the pandemic.
“America’s farming community is facing an unprecedented situation as our nation tackles the coronavirus," said USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue in a statement sent to reporters. “These payments will help keep farmers afloat while market demand returns as our nation reopens and recovers."
Producers who have suffered a 5%-or-greater price decline will be eligible to receive assistance. There'll be a $250,000 limit per person or entity. The USDA will begin accepting applications starting on May 26.
At Justice Brothers Ranch in Waddell, Selwyn Justice says he'll likely apply. Justice Brothers Ranch has about 150 head of cattle, and the coronavirus pandemic has caused cattle prices to drop by 20%. That's all the profit that they'd normally make, leaving them with the difficult decision to sell the cattle at a loss or hold onto them while still paying the high expenses to raise them. Justice says he's happy the federal government is stepping in to get some help out to the farming community.
"If we're talking about agriculture that feeds people, that's something that we need to support. Because instability in that market has a cascading effect that really rolls out to everyone," Justice said.