Small Business Administration’s policy fix offers a lifeline to farmers

After farmers were left out of small business aid this spring, a policy fix offered a life line to the agriculture sector. During a hearing on Capitol Hill, SBA leaders updated Congress on the agency’s loan progress.

In March, the Small Business Administration eased application requirements for Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help employers impacted by the pandemic. According to SBA’s James Rivera, this enabled SBA to provide disaster loans for small businesses in all 50 states and U.S. territories, and it established a nationwide disaster assistance program.

Due to a high application volume, the program quickly ran out of funds.

However, for the first time in three decades, farmers were eligible for SBA loans. In May, the administration reopened EIDL exclusively to agriculture.

“We’ve not had authority for agricultural enterprises since the mid-80s. So, we had to stop, we had to retool the system, and during that period of time we also got additional funding,” Rivera said.

Some lawmakers criticized the decision saying that reopening agriculture first jeopardized recovery efforts. They want clearer communication moving forward.