Thirty-one agriculture organizations and businesses are calling on the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to include agricultural businesses in the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), as intended by Congress in the CARES Act.
The notice on the SBA website currently 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, the agriculture groups wrote, “Agricultural producers and businesses are critical elements of this nation’s economy and food system. Prior to COVID-19, farmers and ranchers had already experienced a drastic 24-percent 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 letter added, “Many agricultural producers need access to this critical source of financing to help preserve their businesses and avoid further disruptions to our economy and food systems.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is among the organizations that signed the letter and AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “Farmers and ranchers are the critical first link in America’s food supply chain. 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.”
National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) was also among the signatures on the letter. NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth stated, “As part of the critical U.S. food supply infrastructure, U.S. pork producers are committed to keeping Americans and consumers around the world supplied with nutritious protein. To ensure a continued and uninterrupted supply of pork to America’s kitchens, hog farmers must have access to necessary resources, including this vital economic disaster loan program.”
The letter wrapped up stating, “We believe that the clear statutory language of the CARES Act indicates that agricultural businesses can participate in the emergency EIDL program as was the intent of Congress.”
Northern Ag Network – 2020