The Senate approved a bipartisan agreement Tuesday to infuse the highly popular Paycheck Protection Program with an additional $320 billion while also making farms eligible for a separate disaster loan program for small businesses.
The House will consider the bill on Thursday.
The PPP, which was created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted in March, offers forgivable loans for businesses, including farms, that use most of the money to retain or rehire workers. The initial $349 billion in funding ran out last week; $4.4 billion of that went to businesses involved in agriculture, forestry and hunting and fishing, according to Small Business Administration data.
Farm Credit System lenders welcomed the deal but don't expect the money to last long. “The expectation around that is it will be maybe 72 hours – I don’t see it lasting four days at this point,” said Todd Van Hoose, CEO of the Farm Credit Council.
Many Farm Credit associations didn't get approved to process the loans until shortly before the money ran out.
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The latest, $484 billion bill, which the Senate passed by unanimous consent, would also allow farms to participate in the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Businesses that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue can get a grant for $10,000 and borrow up to $2 million under the program.
Brian Kuehl, director of government and public affairs for KCoe Isom, a national agriculture accounting and consulting firm, said EIDL eligibility is a big win for farms.
”SBA was wrong to have excluded ag in the first place. Farmers are hurting and need access to the $10,000 emergency grants and low interest loans under this program,” he said.
The new bill also would provide $75 billion for health care providers and another $25 billion for COVID-19 testing.
Left out of the bill was a boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Democrats have been pushing for a temporary 15% increase.
Read a summary of the bill here.
Ben Nuelle contributed to this report.
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