Local Farmers Eligible for USDA COVID Assistance Program
McMECHEN – Local growers, ranchers and farmers that grow commercial produce, crops or raise livestock are eligible for COVID-19 related financial assistance through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program.
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2, offered through the USDA, provides financial assistance to farmers that raise livestock, fruits and vegetables, or commodity crops such as corn, soybeans or wheat. J.L. Tennant, county executive director with the USDA Farm Service Agency in McMechen, said the assistance is to help farmers that had their livelihoods affected by closures to restaurants, farmers’ markets, or decreased food prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For cattle, they would have faced a drop in (beef) price; for fruits and vegetables, they may not have been able to (have a market) if they provided to restaurants; due to COVID, (many) restaurants weren’t in business,” Tennant said. “There was a disruption in the supply chain due to COVID.”
Tennant said there is no limit to the number of people that can apply for assistance, and that the McMechen branch administers the entire Northern Panhandle from Tyler County to Hancock County.
The amount of assistance given, in a one-time payment, varies from what product the applicant provides. For livestock, the stipend granted is $55 per head; hogs and pigs are $23 per head; and lambs and sheep are $27 per head, Tennant said.
The program is available to anyone that grows produce or livestock for commercial use, excluding those who keep a garden for personal use. The deadline to apply is Dec. 11.
The USDA Service Center can be reached at 304-242-0576 with questions on how to apply.