Ag groups call for improvements to Paycheck Protection Program


A coalition of 35 ag groups lead by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association wrote a letter to congressional leaders Monday to encourage specific changes to the Paycheck Protection Program.

On behalf of our nation’s family farmers and ranchers, the undersigned organizations write to express concern with the tremendous strain the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has placed on American agriculture. While most of our members’ business enterprises have been deemed essential amid state stay-at-home orders and national social distancing guidelines, we have not been immune to labor issues, financial hardships, or regulatory uncertainty in these unprecedented times,” the letter begins.

Only 1.3 percent of the $349 billion in federal funding went to the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors.

“Federal relief is only as good as the access that people in need have to it.” said Marty Smith, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Here are some specific changes recommended.

- Expedite approval of applications for rural lenders because most of ag’s primary lenders have not given SBA loans.

- Offer guidance for agricultural applications and allow businesses to use additional income documentation to qualify for PPP

- Define “primary place of residence” in SBA Statute so it includes H-2A guest workers, many of whom spend more than half their time in the U.S.

- Include rental payments for all business-related items should be included in the SBA loan program.

- An increase in SBA’s eligibility cap for employees is essential for family farms and agricultural processors that employ more than 500 employees to continue operating and paying their employees.

“Thank you for your consideration of these critical concerns. We applaud your leadership and commitment to farmers and ranchers. We stand ready to work with you as our nation meets this unique challenge,” the letter concludes.