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Rep. Courtney Warns SBA, Treasury that Failure to Provide Farmers with Quick Access to Newly Authorized Funding will Result in Farm Closures

April 28, 2020
Press Release

NORWICH, CT – Yesterday, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) wrote to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and to U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza urging both agencies to act swiftly on new funding authorized by Congress so that farmers are able to access the resupplied Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and grant programs. Rep. Courtney is Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Dairy Caucus, and on April 23rd he voted to pass the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 266), which is now law. The bill not only provided $60 billion in new funding to the SBA’s EIDL and grant program, but also included language that explicitly expanded EIDL eligibility to farmers. Rep. Courtney had urged the SBA to expand eligibility to farmers only weeks before, and H.R. 266 passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support by a margin of 355-8-1 before being signed into law on April 24th.

In his letter, Courtney noted that since passage of H.R. 266, neither the SBA nor Treasury have provided a portal for farmers and agricultural enterprises to apply for and receive funding through the critical EIDL program. He urged swift action so that farmers are able to access the EIDL program immediately, and also requested that the SBA and Treasury work to ensure that assistance for farmers is expedited through the queue of businesses awaiting support.

Specifically, Rep. Courtney wrote:

“As you know, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act passed the House with my strong support […]. This new law expands the ability for farmers and other agricultural enterprises to utilize the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program (Sec. 101), and now allows any agricultural enterprise as defined in statute with fewer than 500 employees to receive EIDL Emergency Grants.

“Unfortunately, as of the writing of this letter, SBA and Treasury have yet to open up the EIDL portal to agricultural enterprises. Our local farms are essential to maintaining our food supply chain and yet they are some of the last businesses who will be able to receive funds through this critical program. Our Connecticut dairy farmers are especially vulnerable at this time, having lost much of the demand of dairy products through the closure of restaurants, universities, and public schools. […]

“I urge you to immediately publish guidance enabling agricultural enterprises with fewer than 500 employees to have access to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and EIDL grant programs.

“Additionally, I request that you ensure that agricultural enterprises – who only recently gained eligibility to this program through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act – are not required to wait until all other existing businesses in the queue receive the funds in order to take advantage of this new assistance. If this guidance is not issued soon and farmers are not provided with an expedited approval track, it is extremely likely that our farms in need will not be able to access the new appropriated funds to these programs, and massive closures of local farm businesses will undoubtedly be the result.”

To read Congressman Courtney’s full letter to Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza, click here.

Congressman Courtney is the Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Dairy Caucus. Last week, Courtney helped secure new guidance from the SBA that clarified that farmers and agricultural workers are, in fact, eligible for assistance through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The recently passed H.R. 266 also resupplied the PPP with $310 billion, making the new guidance especially timely. To read Rep. Courtney’s full statement on the new PPP guidance, click here.

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