AgriLife Extension assists Texans in production agriculture
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, in collaboration with the office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, will be providing educational outreach and training to help producers of agricultural commodities throughout the state understand and acquire federal assistance to help them recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic.Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, College Station, said helping agricultural producers better understand the CARES stimulus package is necessary to help secure the future food supply.“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the food production and supply and has had a profound and far-reaching effect on those front-line farmers we depend on to meet our needs for food and nutrition,” Stover said.AgriLife Extension director Jeff Hyde, Ph.D., College Station, said his agency’s initial phase of the collaboration with the governor’s office used AgriLife Extension’s unique, statewide reach to educate local officials serving counties, municipalities, communities and schools about the federal relief package.“Now in this second phase, we are providing outreach and training statewide for those agricultural producers we rely upon to provide us with the food and fiber we need every day,” he said. “We hope our efforts will help them obtain the federal funding for which they are eligible as quickly as possible.”Training on CARES ActThe free training course, “The CARES Act: Implications for Farmers and Ranchers,” can be found on AgriLife Extension’s online learning website.The training builds on a recent report by the Agricultural and Food Policy Center, or AFPC, at Texas A&M University that summarizes the financial relief resources made available to agricultural producers.The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, will be instrumental in helping Texans recover from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic. For agricultural producers, much of the assistance will be provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has just finalized the process of finalizing details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, CFAP. “The CARES Act provides a number of tools to help workers, families and small businesses, including farmers and ranchers,” explained Bart Fischer, co-director of the Agriculture and Food Policy Center and AgriLife Research economist. “Now that USDA has finalized the details of CFAP, we stand ready to help make sure Texas producers have the information they need to apply as quickly as possible.”Continued outreachAFPC recently estimated that production agriculture losses in Texas as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic could be from $6-8 billion or more. The agricultural commodities identified as being most affected by the pandemic include weaned calves, stocker calves, feeder steers, sheep and goats, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products. AgriLife Extension will continue to offer outreach and online trainings related to the CARES Act to help agricultural producers navigate the federal funding process so they may recover financially as quickly and effectively as possible. And AgriLife Extension agents and others will be available to assist producers with any questions related to the training and application process for federal funding.Hyde noted AgriLife Extension will collaborate with the Texas agriculture industry, commodity associations and other groups to help ensure agricultural producers are aware of the agency’s trainings and of any other informational assistance available to them.