GAO Reviews the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

During 2020 and 2021, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency provided $31 billion in aid to more than 950,000 producers of agricultural commodities, including crops, dairy, and livestock. The goal was to help offset losses and costs associated with COVID-19. The Government Accountability Office found problems in the process the FSA used to review claims under CFAP submitted by producers. For example, the agency reviewed the claims of 90 producers, and over half didn’t provide support for their payments. GAO says $661.5 million distributed primarily for livestock and other commodities went to high-income producers whose average annual adjusted gross income exceeded $900,000 over three years. The average payment per producer was highest in California at over $97,600. Iowa, California, and Nebraska each received over $2 billion in CFAP payments. Eight other states, including Minnesota, Kansas, and South Dakota received at least $1 billion. Seven individual operations received at least $3 million in total payments.