A coalition of more than 35 agricultural groups are urging changes be made to the Paycheck Protection Program to make it more accessible for farmers and ranchers. The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors received 1.3% of the original $349 billion in the first round of approved funding, which was quickly depleted.
"Federal relief is only as good as the access that people in need have to it," said Marty Smith, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. “Unfortunately for agricultural producers, accessing the first round of Paycheck Protection Program funding proved to be nearly impossible, with less than 2% of these loans reaching our industry. Hopefully the second round of PPP will be more accessible to family ranchers and farmers."
“The CARES Act is a lifeline for farmers and ranchers struggling to stay afloat during this pandemic,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “As lawmakers consider replenishing the disaster loan program, it’s crucial that they ensure agriculture is given equal access to assistance.”
A second round of PPP relief is being rolled out after winning final Congressional approval last week
The coalition's list of priorities for the next round of SBA loans includes:
- Expedite approval of applications for rural lenders as most of agriculture’s primary lenders have not administered SBA loans and allow Farm Credit institutions to access the newly established PPP set-aside for small financial lenders.
- Sole proprietors who file a Schedule F should be eligible to participate in the Payroll Protection Program and allow businesses to use additional income documentation to qualify for PPP.
- The Primary Place of Residence should be defined to clearly include H-2A guest workers, as many of these workers spend over half the year in the United States.
- Rental payments for all business-related items should be included in the SBA loan program.
- An increase in SBA’s eligibility cap for employees is essential for family farms and agricultural processors that employ more than 500 employees to continue operating and paying their employees.