Hemp farmers are eligible for expanded U.S. Department of Agriculture coronavirus aid under a $14 billion plan announced by the agency last Friday. The program begins today and runs through December 11.
Under the plan, hemp qualifies as a “flat-rate crop” – defined as either not meeting the 5 percent price decline trigger to participate in the program or lack of data to calculate a price change. Payments to eligible hemp farmers will be based on “eligible 2020 acres multiplied by $15 per acre” the USDA said in a press release.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said that while “America’s agriculture communities are resilient,” they “still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“President Trump is once again demonstrating his commitment to ensure America’s farmers and ranchers remain in business to produce the food, fuel, and fiber America needs to thrive. We listened to feedback received from farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on our nations’ farms and ranches, and we developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted.” – Perdue in a statement
Under the program rules, farmers with an Adjusted Gross Income over $900,000 are ineligible for the funds unless at least 75 percent of their income is from farming, ranching, or forestry-related activities. Payments are also capped at $250,000, although there are some exceptions for corporations, limited liability companies, and limited partnerships “when members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation,” the agency said.
While the hemp industry was eligible for federal coronavirus relief under a plan rolled out in March, hemp prices had not fallen the required 5 percent from January to April preventing the sector from accessing the aid.