Covid-19 Relief Update

a vintage typewriter with the words Corona Update typed on a sheet of paper

On April 24, 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement became law. This legislation expressly recognizes that “an agricultural enterprise … with not more than 500 employees” is eligible for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan. This extra legislation, dubbed “Cares Act 2.0,” became necessary because the Small Business Administration previously refused to recognize that farms were eligible for coronavirus relief, despite congressional intent to the contrary. I blogged about this issue before. This is a bright spot for small growers. The CARES Act authorizes the SBA to give businesses emergency grants up to $10,000, but the Small Business Administration limits emergency grants to $1,000 for each employee. The cap of $1,000 per employee has been upheld in federal court. So if you have ten or more employees, you may get the full statutory grant of $10,000. But if it’s just you employing you, you get $1,000. The good news (aside from the reaffirmed eligibility of farmers) is that it is easy and quick to apply – click here to apply.

More aid may come to local farmers under the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. As the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition reported, the bill would provide 16.5 billion in direct relief to farmers. But there is a fight over this. Republicans have rejected the House proposal. And Donald Trump has already said that he would veto the legislation.

Notably, the object of Republican ire of the HEROES Act are parts of the bill aimed at helping cannabis-related businesses access financial institutions.

Regardless of the fate of the HEROES Bill, my two guides will help local food systems navigate the new economic landscape. In the Community Supported Agriculture guide, I explain how to use community supported agriculture programs to raise capital and manage risks. Coronavirus has led to greater public interest in community supported agriculture programs. In the Farmers Find Funding Guide, I provide a list of federal and state sources of funds to assist food systems in this time of uncertainty. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter to get one-or both-guides.

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