New Coronavirus Bill Includes Help for Farms
The latest Coronavirus Relief Package, passed by Congress includes funding for hospitals and COVID-19 testing as well as provide more support for small businesses.
The bill includes $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, including $30 billion allocated specifically to community lenders, small banks and credit unions, and $30 billion to medium-sized banks and credit unions; $60 billion for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which includes $10 billion in emergency grants for businesses. The EIDL program now includes Farms and other agriculture enterprises, left out of previous Coronavirus aid packages. .
April 23 – From the PA Department of Agriculture:
As a result of agriculture being life-sustaining, the department has encouraged food production and processing operations to continue, but has advised they adhere to the following guidance to minimize risk, maintain a healthy workforce, and ensure the safety of food:
- Farms and On-Farm Deliveries: Includes recommendations for limited exposure such as identifying drop off locations for regular deliveries, logging deliveries and on-farm entries, protecting the workforce, maintaining regular cleaning and sanitation, and writing a continuity of business plan to prepare if the farm operator becomes ill or needs to be isolated, so that farm operations can continue.
- Farmers Markets and On-Farm Markets: This guidance includes recommendations for delivery and pick-up, methods for contactless shopping experiences, and decreasing crowds. It outlines the opportunity for farms to open an on-farm stand to sell raw produce, eggs, or shelf stable packaged foods such as jams, jellies, or baked good.
- Guidance for Food Processing Facilities: The Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, and PEMA guided Pennsylvania’s food processing facilities through recommendations to ensure their workforce remains healthy, reduce outbreaks, and maintain continuity of operations. The guidance included separate recommendations for facilities in areas with widespread transmission and limited transmission, as well as steps facilities should immediately implement to screen employees and reduce risk.
- Grocery and Convenience Stores: The department has worked with the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association and directly with stakeholders to communicate with operators of grocery stores and other retail food facilities the importance of adherence to the department’s guidance and Secretary Levine’s worker safety order. The guidance includes both mandatory and recommended customer protective controls, employee protective controls, facility sanitation procedures, and advice to managers.
- Procedures for Sanitization and Diagnosed Employees: This includes both mandatory and recommended guidance to employers to protect employees and customers from COVID-19. Once an employee is diagnosed, it’s critical to follow this guidance and the worker safety order to prevent further spread to other individuals. There is no evidence of COVID-19 being spread through food or food packaging.
- DCED Business to Business Portal for PPE: Communicated to industry the Department of Community and Economic Portal to connect Pennsylvania businesses seeking PPE and related items with resources
Thank you to Cheryl Johnson, Chair, Business Continuity and Preparedness Coalition (BCPC), South Central Mountains Regional Task Force (SCMRTF) for sharing this information.
April 3 – Thank you to the office of Congressman John Joyce for providing this very important clarification regarding Farms and eligibility for SBA disaster assistance through the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program)
Last night (April 2) the U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) and Small Business Administration (SBA) released an interim final rule on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Agricultural producers are eligible to participate in the program and should reach out to their bankers and/or agricultural lenders to apply immediately. While SBA still needs to confirm some administrative details, loans will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis and producers can get started on the application now.
- For a top-line overview of the PPP program CLICK HERE
- Information for prospective borrowers can be found HERE
- The application for borrowers can be found HERE
Below please find additional details about the PPP program. Outstanding issues will be addressed once SBA provides further guidance.
- Program Eligibility
- All businesses (including farm and ranch businesses) are eligible for a PPP loan if they (1) have fewer than 500 employees; (2) meet the definition of a “small business concern”; and (3) are subject to SBA’s affiliation rules (unless those rules were specifically waived in the CARES Act).
- Waiting on SBA to clarify the definition of “small business concern” – do not anticipate any undue restrictions.
- Waiting on SBA to confirm whether H2A workers are counted as “employees” for the purposes of determining size.
- Financial institutions, including the Farm Credit system, will be responsible for processing loan applications and administering the loan.
- Loan Terms
- Loan amounts are calculated based on the payroll costs for all employees whose “principal place of residence” is in the U.S. Please note that this definition excludes H-2A workers, which will likely reduce the loan amount available to some agricultural producers.
- This loan has a maturity of 2 years and an interest rate of 1%. Loan payments will be deferred for the first six months.
- The loan will be fully forgiven if at least 75% of the funds are used for payroll costs, and the remainder is used for interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
- Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
- The best POC for questions on the Paycheck Protection Program is the Lender Relations Specialist in your local SBA Field Office. The local SBA Field Office may be found at https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices.