Rep. TJ Cox says financial assistance for farmers, ranchers available from Dept. of Ag

Rep. TJ Cox
Rep. TJ Cox

Congressman TJ Cox announced this week that on May 26, farmers and ranchers seeking financial assistance could begin applying for the direct payment program from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Payments will then start to reach farmers and ranchers as soon as a week after.

The application to receive the payment will stay open through August, and most producers should be able to put through their requests before then. Applications and more information about the program can be accessed at  

The USDA also announced that it would provide up to $2.1 billion in direct payments to specialty crop producers. The payments are based on losses where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will help producers facing additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year as a result of COVID-19. The USDA is recommending that specialty crop producers fill in their application for financial assistance ahead of the application date.  

"Ranchers, farmers, and farmworkers, in the Central Valley, are on the frontlines every day risking their health to ensure that we all have access to food, yet they haven't gotten the financial support they need," said Cox. "I worked tirelessly with my colleagues to ensure the CARES Act passed two months ago gave support to the Central Valley agriculture community, so I am happy to finally say they will get the assistance they need at this difficult time." 

The CARES Act, signed into law March 27, set aside $16 billion in funding for an aid package meant to help farmers and ranchers who have seen a crash in commodity prices since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the USDA has announced it will start to open the application process, thousands of hard-hit ag producers in the Central Valley and across the United States will finally have access to the relief they need to keep their operations afloat.  

In addition to the direct payments, the USDA has implemented the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, in which the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is partnering with national, regional and local suppliers to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and meat products and have suppliers package these products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need. More information about the food box program is available at

The USDA will also make an additional $873.3 million in purchases of specialty crops products for distribution to food banks. The use of these additional funds will be determined by industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis, and food bank needs. The latest purchase solicitations are available at   

Cox has worked with Representatives on both sides of the aisle to push for more relief for the ag industry and gained notable victories for agriculture in the Heroes Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives last Friday. If enacted into law, the act would: 

  • Protect farmworkers by providing pandemic premium pay for frontline workers, 
  • Commit another $75 billion for testing, tracing, and treatment for COVID-19, including specific funding for testing how COVID-19 affects farmers and farmworkers,  
  • Provides $100 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant,  
  • Provide $500 million to reimburse dairies for contributions to the Emergency Dairy Donation Program, as well as another half a billion for the Dairy Recourse Loan Program, 
  • Provide special funding for municipalities under 50,000 residents, which protects rural areas in the Central Valley, and 
  • Strengthens food security by increasing the maximum SNAP benefits by 15% and providing $10 billion to support anticipated increases in participation in SNAP, thereby increasing the demand for ag products 
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