Our world has changed a lot in the past six months. Phrases like “social distancing” and “quarantine” have become as commonplace as talking about the weather.

Unfortunately, it appears COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. As our economy continues to grapple with the effects of the virus, the federal government announced it is extending a program designed to help our state’s No. 1 industry: agriculture.

The United States Department of Agriculture has extended its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program into a second phase. This program is for farmers, ranchers and all agricultural producers who have been directly affected by the pandemic. USDA’s Farm Service Agency will continue to take applications through Dec. 11.

The first round of assistance ran from May 26 through Sept. 11. Unfortunately, I believe there are still too many of our farmers who are hurting because of the virus. The CFAP 2 program will provide farmers and other producers with financial assistance to help them absorb some of the rising costs associated with doing business during the pandemic.

For more information on the program, I encourage farmers and other interested groups to visit farmers.gov/cfap. The website provides an overview of the entire program and outlines the application process. It also includes an important list of resources for farmers and it shows which commodities are eligible through the CFAP 2 program.

I wish I knew when this pandemic was going to end. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is no one knows. In the meantime, I believe the best thing we can do is continue to work together and help each other through these difficult times. This is what we do in rural Missouri, and no virus is going to stop us.

I urge my neighbors to continue trusting in God to guide us through these difficult times. Together, we can come out of this pandemic better than how we went in.

Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, represents District 12 in the Missouri Senate. His constituency includes part of Clay County, including Kearney. Hegeman can be reached at 573-751-1415 or dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov.

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