Local Food System Producers Get Special Shout Out in Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

The western (front) side of the United States Capitol. The U.S. Capitol serves as the location for Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government.

The coronavirus stimulus bill is now law. Its official name is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act–or for those of us who more easily remember cute acronyms, the CARES Act. The CARES Act doles out lots of money that could be used for small scale food producers. 9.5 billion dollars has been set aside to support agricultural producers impacted by coronavirus. The legislation specifically includes “producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools.” Another $450 million have been set aside for the commodity food assistance program. And those are just directed to agriculture.

Congress appropriated 10 billion dollars for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)–and grants! The EIDL program has been around for decades, but this is the first time the program has been used to deal with a virus. Like every loan and grant program, EIDL has strings. The CARES Act itself restricts “eligible entities” to those with not more than 500 employees. Although agricultural cooperatives in general may not be eligible entities for EIDL relief, the CARES Act makes “small agricultural cooperatives” eligible for relief.

When you apply for an EIDL loan, you may request a $10,000 advance grant to pay sick leave for COVID-19 infected employees, keep payroll, deal with supply chain disruptions, make rent or mortgage payments, or repay outstanding obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses. The $10,000 does not have to be repaid, even if the loan application is ultimately denied. The $10,000 is essentially a grant. It’s easy to apply; check it out here. If you need help, you can always contact me.

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