This time of COVID-19 is bringing many firsts, and the latest could benefit farmers and ranchers. This week the U.S. Small Business Administration announced that agricultural businesses are now eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loan and EIDL Advance programs.
SBA's EIDL portal reopened, Monday, May 4, as a result of funding authorized by Congress as part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation was signed into law the week of April 27 and provides added funding for farmers and ranchers and certain other agricultural business affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a release about the program's expansion to agriculture, Jovita Carranza, SBA Administrator, commented: "For more than 30 years, SBA has been prohibited by law from providing disaster assistance to agricultural businesses, however, as a result of the unprecedented legislation enacted by President Trump, American farmers, ranchers and other agricultural businesses will now have access to emergency working capital."
The program will provide low-interest, long-term loans to help keep ag businesses viable while bringing stability to the food chain, Carranza said.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue added: "America's farmers, ranchers and prodcuers need the same help that other American businesses need during this unprecedented time." The loan program had been closed since April 15, but the agency was able to reopen May 4, in a limited capacity, due to the new funding.
Under the program, eligible agricultural businesses include those engaged in the legal production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture and all other farming and agricultural related industries. Eligible businesses must have 500 or fewer employees.
The SBA will begin accepting new EIDL applications on a limited basis only, in order to provide relief to U.S. ag businesses. The agency is reopening the portal for ag businesses only. For ag businesses that submitted an EIDL loan application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislation change, SBA will move forward and process those applications without the need to reapply. All other EIDL loan applications submitted before the portal stopped accepting new applications on April 15 will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis.
You can learn more at sba.gov/disaster