Last week farmers and ranchers were invited to an outreach event presented by a collaboration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Blackfeet Tribe and Piikani Health Lodge Institute. Volunteers were on hand to assist producers in signing up for Coronavirus funding.

Long empty, Glacier Peaks Casino’s parking lot was a hive of activity over the course of two days last week as a collaboration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Blackfeet Tribe and Piikani Health Lodge Institute offered signup services to farmers and ranchers affected by the COVID-19 shutdown.

One of the outreach workers, Ty Show, said partnerships among agencies brings much more to the table than agencies working in isolation from each other. “Working together works so much better,” Show said.

There were two main programs offered to those who drove through, and there have been updates to those programs that affect producers. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) provides funding directly to producers for livestock per head, excluding horses, and for certain crops per bushel to sustain the business.

“For example, every year producers bring their cattle to markets, but this year the markets are so volatile that the producers need help to supplement their losses,” Show said. He went on to explain that when the program began, producers only received 80% of the amount they were eligible for in order to prevent the system from being overwhelmed at that point. 

Now that the program is fully funded, he said that if a producer has already signed up and received 80%, they are eligible to receive the remaining 20%. Anyone signing up now will receive 100% of the amount for which they are eligible.

Another program, the Business Stabilization Grant, has been updated since Aug. 12 to supply up to a maximum of $20,000 instead of the $10,000 maximum set earlier. It will now provide six months of working capital instead of three months.

“If you’ve already signed up, you can receive an additional payment,” Show said. “For example, if you got $7,000 before, now you can receive another $7,000. I’ve heard back from some who have got funding, and they’re all really stoked.”

Show continued, “Mouse and Joy Hall have an outfitting business in East Glacier, and they are elders who don’t know how to access these programs. I make elders a priority,” he said. “I’m meeting with Earl Old Person at his cabin today. I will go to their homes to help them while staying within CDC guidelines.”

Of course, Show and his fellow volunteers sign up younger folks as well.

For Show, this week has been special in many ways.

“This week has been a pivotal week for me that’s opened my eyes,” he said. “I worked with kids on Monday [at the NASA signup at BCC] and I worked with elders on Wednesday and Thursday. I will help all that I can, and if I can’t help, I’ll find someone who can.”

For more information and to sign up for assistance, call Ty Show at 406-450-5570.

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