Agriculture Aid and Farm Disaster Relief

Farm groups urge lawmakers to offer some flexibility on Paycheck Protection loans.

Under current provisions, 75 percent of the funds need to be used within eight weeks on payroll alone. Fruits and vegetable growers say that it is not enough time, since harvest season is just beginning but the funds were distributed weeks ago.

Furthermore, they want H-2A labor to count towards loan forgiveness.

The House is scheduled to vote on those changes next week, but legislation on ag could become a larger “Pandemic Relief Bill”. According to Andrew Walmsley, with the American Farm Bureau, “One that would be a $50 billion dollar COVID-19 aid to the the Secretary’s office to get out to producers. We’ve also seen discussion and a bill introduced to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation’s authority up to $68 billion dollars.”

The HEROES Act is awaiting Senate review because some Senators want to wait, until at least next month, to see the results from unspent billions in pandemic aid.

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency invokes a disaster “set aside” provision allowing farmers to skip this year’s payments.

The action is normally reserved for natural disasters, but now it will take effect for farmers impacted by the current crisis. The payment will be tacked on to the end of the loan which can be extended for one year.

For all updates on the Coronavirus and how it impacts Rural America, visit our Coronavirus outbreak hub.