Brindisi Fights For Farmers & Calls On Small Business Administration To Give Small Farms Access to Immediate COVID-19 Relief

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April 2, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Leads Bipartisan Push To Make Sure Relief Is Available For Family Farmers

 

Brindisi: Farmers Need Our Help To Make It Through This Pandemic While Continuing To Feed American Families 

 

Congressmen Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), and Josh Harder (CA-10) led a bipartisan letter of 85+ members urging the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure small farms can access immediate COVID-19 relief through the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program under the recently-passed CARES Act.  

 

The CARES Act expanded the EIDL program to enable small businesses to access immediate, emergency grants and established a new Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses retain employees and pay overhead costs during the pandemic. Following the bill’s passage, SBA issued guidance making small farm operations eligible for assistance through its Paycheck Protection Program, but excludes them from EIDL loan or grant eligibility. The members’ letter makes clear that SBA’s decision is not consistent with Congressional intent and calls on the agency to ensure EIDL eligibility for small farmers.

 

“We write to urge your immediate attention and swift action on an issue that threatens to discriminate against rural areas and the farmers that are the backbone of rural economies,” wrote the members, “We were shocked and disappointed that, contrary to Congressional intent, the Small Business Administration singles out farmers and agricultural businesses as ineligible for this program. We urge you to ensure that agricultural businesses and farmers are eligible to access the EIDL program, and the other small business provisions in the CARES act. Farmers need our help to make it through this pandemic while continuing to feed American families, fuel our economy, and sustain other resources which are essential to our survival. Now more than ever we must provide our farmers and rural communities with federal assistance needed to combat this pandemic and not turn our backs on these communities.”

 

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

 

Dear Administrator Carranza:

 

We write to urge your immediate attention and swift action on an issue that threatens to discriminate against rural areas and the farmers that are the backbone of rural economies. 

 

On March 27, the House passed the CARES Act (PL 116-136) to respond to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and the bill was then signed into law. Because the public health measures necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus are taking a particular toll on small businesses, including our nation’s farmers, the CARES Act provides a broad range of assistance to help tide over small businesses that might otherwise not be able to survive the impact. 

 

Among those provisions, Section 1110 of the CARES Act creates an emergency economic injury grant program. In recognition that the coronavirus is affecting many types of entities that may not traditionally be considered small businesses, ​this provision expands the eligibility criteria in the underlying economic injury disaster loan program. 

 

As a result, we were shocked and disappointed that, contrary to Congressional intent, the Small Business Administration singles out farmers and agricultural businesses as ineligible for this program. We ask that you share the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s rationale for excluding farms from this program, including any statutory limitations on aiding farmers.

We urge you to ensure that agricultural businesses and farmers are eligible to access the EIDL program, and the other small business provisions in the CARES act. Farmers need our help to make it through this pandemic while continuing to feed American families, fuel our economy, and sustain other resources which are essential to our survival. Now more than ever we must provide our farmers and rural communities with federal assistance needed to combat this pandemic and not turn our backs on these communities.

 

Thank you, Administrator Carranza, for your attention to this critical matter, and for SBA’s work to address the economic impacts of this pandemic. SBA’s swift action on this issue will help alleviate the concerns of our nation’s family farms, which are vital to our country and our communities.