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Federal and State Policy Update

by Noah Lakritz |

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted unique responses by federal, state, and local governments. This legislative update provides a brief snapshot of some key state and federal policy areas CCOF is monitoring. 

USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

On Thursday, May 14, USDA hosted a webinar to introduce producers to the application process for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The webinar recording can be viewed via Zoom. USDA has said that it will release applications soon. The CFAP website has initial instructions to prepare producers to apply, including contacting your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and providing the following information:

  • Contact
  • Personal information, including your Tax Identification Number
  • Farming operating structure
  • Adjusted Gross Income to ensure eligibility
  • Direct deposit to enable payment processing

Please visit the CFAP website and keep updated with CCOF Action Alerts and blog posts for programmatic updates. 

Federal Legislation: Heroes Act 

On Friday, May 15, the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion bill that outlines Congressional Democrats’ priorities in this round of Coronavirus relief negotiations. A key provision in the bill is an additional $16.5 billion in direct relief to farmers which would supplement the $16 billion USDA has yet to release through CFAP. The proposed relief would allow farmers to claim losses in the second quarter of 2020. The current round of funding will only cover first-quarter losses. 

California Governor’s Office

On May 14, California Governor Gavin Newsom released a revision to his 2020 budget with significant cuts to balance the budget from spending on COVID-19. Proposed cuts include Climate Smart Agriculture programs and the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). The revised budget includes a $34.4 million, or 10 percent, reduction in General Fund support for the University of California, including UC ANR. The revised budget also removes a $20 million general fund allocation for State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Grants that was included in the governor’s January budget.  

The governor announced executive orders that expand benefits to essential workers. One order allows essential workers who contract COVID-19 while on the job to access workers’ compensation benefits. Another order expands paid sick leave benefits for food sector workers at companies with great than 500 employees. Governor Newsom also sent a letter to Secretary Jared Blumenfeld of the California Environmental Protection Agency, directing the agency to work on strong pesticide regulation enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor highlighted the importance of growing a strong, climate smart agricultural economy while protecting public health.