$14B in new aid opens to farmers; U.S. adds 37K COVID-19 cases

(UPI) - Beginning Monday, farmers and ranchers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can begin signing up for the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program aid program, which will direct billions to the industry.

$14B in new aid opens to farmers; U.S. adds 37K COVID-19 cases

President Donald Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the new aid last week.

The program will make $14 billion in direct cash payments available to producers who have seen their markets disrupted and costs increased by the crisis. The sign-up period lasts through Dec. 11.

"America's agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Perdue said.

"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."

The first round of farm aid gave $10 billion for business related to cattle, hog, dairy and non-specialty and specialty crops to offset losses in the spring. The new aid applies to losses through August and also covers all varieties of wheat, wine grapes, goats, bison, mohair, tobacco, hemp and mink.

Producers can receive a maximum of $250,000 under the program.

The new program begins amid nearly 37,700 new cases in the United States, according to updated data Monday from Johns Hopkins University.

The university's Center for Systems Science and Engineering showed there were 36,700 new cases nationwide on Sunday and 700 additional deaths. The case count was a decline from Saturday, when more than 50,000 were recorded for the first time since early this month.

To date, there have been 6.81 million cases and 199,500 deaths in the United States since the start of the outbreak.

In Wisconsin, the state total surpassed 100,000 cases on Sunday. The new figures represented a second day of declines following a record-setting week, but still pushed Wisconsin's seven-day average to a record 1,720.

The state has averaged 44 cases per 100,000 residents over the past week, the second-highest in the United States, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who's scheduled to visit Manitowoc, Wis., on Monday, said Wisconsin's pandemic milestone has shown that President Donald Trump "still has no plan" to bring the pandemic under control and "has proven himself utterly incapable of guiding us through this moment."

in North Dakota, which has the highest ratio of cases, hospitalizations reached a record level on Sunday.

Eighty-one patients were hospitalized, including 22 in intensive care, records show.