Agricultural organizations and businesses are calling on the Small Business Administration to include agricultural businesses in the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
The notice on the SBA website states applicants must certify they are “not an agricultural enterprise (e.g., farm), other than an aquaculture enterprise, agricultural cooperative or nursery.” Yet, the actual text of the CARES Act does not exclude agriculture producers and states all businesses with fewer than 500 employees can participate in the program.
In a letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, 31 agricultural organizations and businesses call upon the agency to include agriculture in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act relief fund.
“Agricultural producers and businesses are critical elements of this nation’s economy and food system," the letter reads. "Prior to COVID-19, farmers and ranchers had already experienced a drastic 24% decline in net farm income from highs experienced just six years ago. With the further downturn in the economy, agricultural businesses are at risk of closure and may be required to lay off employees.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation is among the organizations that signed the letter and AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “The pandemic’s impact on agriculture is coming in waves due to dramatic changes in demand, falling commodity prices and supply challenges. Farmers must have access to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, as Congress intended, to ensure America continues to have access to healthy, affordable food.”
President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, Jim Mulhern, added, “We must ensure that all essential agricultural businesses can continue operating during the coronavirus crisis, including those in dairy, which is critical to consumers. Congress was clear in the CARES Act that it intends for agriculture to be able to access EIDLs. We now call on the Small Business Administration to implement the EIDL provisions in the CARES Act as intended by Congress, allowing dairy farmers to access the program.”
“We think Congress clearly intended to include ag businesses in the emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan program," said Brian Kuehl, director of federal affairs for KCoe Isom. "The Small Business Administration should make that clear as soon as possible. For heavily impacted ag businesses, the ability to secure this type of financing will decide whether they can stay in business.”
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