FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — The pandemic is hitting different forms of local agriculture in different ways, and $16 billion in federal coronavirus relief money is nearly ready for distribution to farmers and ranchers.

Annie AcMoody, Director of Economic Analysis for Western United Dairies says dairies are especially hard-hit, “Cheese production that was going to restaurants now had nowhere to go so it got stuck and created bottlenecks at warehouses and that ultimately went back to the farm.”

She says despite huge losses, the industry has made major changes, “The supply chain issues have adjusted. We’re seeing now retail stores way more filled and production at the farm level is adjusted but overall it’s created this big loss of demand and that’s what pushed dairy prices down.”

Dairies, just one kind of farm getting help from a $16 billion bi-partisan relief package approved by Congress in March.

Tuesday morning, President Trump urged farmers to sign up, “Signups will begin on May 26th through your local farm service agency office.  You’ve got to go sign up to pick it up. To get the money. And we’ll start issuing payments within one week of getting your application.”

Local USDA farm service agency offices can be found here.

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobson says other significant commodities like almonds and wine have also suffered dramatic pricing shifts. “Out of that 16 billion dollars, a majority of that is going toward livestock agriculture. Dairies and the beef industry. But there is a component of that that is going toward specialty crops. And just about everything we grow in California is specialty crops so this is definitely going to be an asset for those farmers here in the Valley.”

Sign-ups begin Tuesday May 26th.

Jacobsen adds, “We’re coming into our busy season right now essentially through October and so we are yet to see what the full impacts are going to be until we get into some of these additional harvest periods.”