Lawmakers reached an agreement Tuesday to allow agriculture to participate in the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The agreement is part of a larger deal, a $484 billion coronavirus package to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The agreement also includes funds for small lenders and community banks, funds for national coronavirus testing and funding for hospitals.

Previously, the Small Business Administration had deemed agricultural producers ineligible for the EIDL. Montana’s senatorial delegation pushed for the change to the SBA program. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell credited Montana Senator Steve Daines and other senators from rural states for making it clear that farmers and ranchers are eligible for the program.

Earlier this month, Daines sent a letter to the Small Business Association urging them to grant farms, ranches, and agriculture businesses the opportunity to apply for the EIDL program. Upon passage of the bill, Daines commented that, “This is great news for Montana’s farmers and ranchers as they head into the spring planting season. Ensuring our farmers and ranchers have access to this program is critical to making sure they can continue to maintain our nation’s food supply chain during the Coronavirus outbreak.”

The $60 billion of funding, including an additional $10 billion for emergency EIDL grants, will replenish EIDL program for small businesses. This is in addition to the $10 billion Daines secured for EIDL in the Phase Three Coronavirus Economic Relief Package.

This is not Phase Four of Congress’ response to the coronavirus outbreak. This bipartisan deal is a boost in funding from the Coronavirus Economic Relief Package which was signed into law on March 27th, 2020 to protect public health, and provide relief for small businesses, workers and families.

Senator Jon Tester also pushed for the change to allow farms and ranches to qualify for the EIDL program. “Montana’s family farms and ranches are the lifeblood of our state’s agriculture, which is our state’s number one industry and is vital to rural communities across Big Sky Country,” said Tester. “The fact is our independent ag producers were just scraping by before this pandemic, so I fought to make sure this program was expanded to include them because these folks need certainty as we head into planting season. I am not going to let Washington leave rural America behind.”

The provision means ag businesses can now apply for low-interest loans through the program and may also qualify for the $10,000 emergency grants. To be eligible, ag businesses will have to show that they have been hurt by the economic downturn caused by coronavirus.

For more information on the program visit the Small Business Administration’s website.

 

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NAFB/Senator Steve Daines/Senator Jon Tester/Northern Ag Network

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