Get Ready to Apply: How Farmers Can Leverage Technology for CFAP Applications

By now, farmers are months into managing their business through a global pandemic with no guidebook, user manual or advice from prior generations that can be used for reference. It is all new to everyone, and the financial pressures on US farmers and ranchers are growing quickly, as marketing expenses are increasing and prices continue to decline. Speculation has circulated about potential ag-specific funding from the USDA for a while. And finally, beginning May 26, help in the form of $16B will be on its way.

The funds, announced May 19, are coming from the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and applications open May 26. It’s not unlimited funding, so being early will be important given the CFAP applications will be processed on a first come first serve basis. Payments to farmers could be processed and distributed as early as June. Many believe this is just the start of relief and is intended to bridge some of the losses while market demand returns as the US reopens and recovers.

Regardless of the number of dollars or the number of rounds available, if farms choose to apply, it will undoubtedly be advantageous to be early in the application process. Not only to get the financial support in hand, but also for peace of mind. Many small businesses lost out on the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans because they weren’t fast enough to apply, and there are a few tips and tricks for how farmers can potentially avoid that by leveraging technology.

So how do you be one of the first applications in for review? On-farm technology adoption can be the difference in the ease of the application process. And it can be tricky given the normal seasonal pressures of running an operation, combined with the tidal wave of requests and applications heading to the FSA offices.

Tips for a successful application process

  1. Call the local FSA office and request a phone appointment for May 26, and confirm the easiest and fastest way to submit your completed application, whether it’s via email, fax or another route.
  2. Collect the data needed now and have it ready. This can be particularly challenging with late-spring fieldwork demanding attention and possibly reduced office support teams because of the virus.
  3. Give yourself enough time to complete the online application form. Print, sign and send it to the local FSA office through the method they have recommended. An FSA appointment may not be necessary, but best to be proactive and ensure you are early in the queue. Here is a video from the USDA on how farmers can prepare for the CFAP signup.

What information is needed

For each non-specialty crop, farmers are required to report their 2019 production total and unsold inventory as of January 15, 2020. Instead of spending hours hunting around the office for paper records and carefully entering all of the information into spreadsheets to calculate those numbers, technology and farm management software can help.

How technology can help

Leveraging a digital tool like Granular can help farmers manage the complexity of operating a farm throughout the year by organizing important data into one place. With a few clicks, farmers are able to quickly calculate and surface crop inventory on any given date and total production numbers, making the CFAP application process painless and mistake-free. With the help of technology, this process should take less than 15 minutes and can be done from anywhere, without a trip to the office.

For example, a Granular Business customer that farms corn, soybeans and wheat can use their tablet to see 2019 production totals by crop and move the numbers into the online CFAP application. Then, in a few clicks, run a report on unsold inventory by crop as of January 15, 2020 and move the numbers into the CFAP application fields.

If the farm has complex crop ownership splits with landlords or family members, or even stores grain for customer harvesting operations, Granular Business has a sort feature that will provide the typically hard-to-organize data in seconds. Every Granular Business farmer is supported by a dedicated Customer Success Manager who can help farmers prepare CFAP applications.

Managing a farming operation through a global pandemic can not end soon enough. But in the meantime, the highest levels of the US Government are responding to the needs of US farmers and ranchers. There are some lifelines being thrown your way, and it is important to grab them without disrupting the rest of your business.

Curious how farm management software can help you act decisively to take advantage of opportunities that arise in this constantly changing environment? Call us at 888-435-4726.

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