Durbin, House Republicans write SBA about farmers
House Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and a group of House Republicans organized by House Agriculture Committee ranking member Michael Conaway, R-Texas, wrote Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza Thursday, urging her to make farmers eligible for the Economic Injury and Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
In his letter, Durbin acknowledged that farmers are usually excluded from SBA disaster programs because they are usually helped by Agriculture Department programs, but that the USDA programs are focused on natural disasters and the coronavirus situation is different. The CARES Act, Durbin said, does not exclude farmers from the EIDL program.
Conaway and 20 colleagues wrote that, “with agriculture income plummeting and debt soaring… we respectfully request that you use all your authority to allow the producers of this country’s food, feed, fuel, and fiber to access both the Economic Injury and Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) while providing maximum flexibility in terms of both determining eligibility and available support under each program.”
“Although it is clear that farmers and ranchers are eligible under the PPP, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a publication confirming this, there remains confusion on the ground,” the letter said.
“Farmers and ranchers are being turned away by lenders who believe producers are ineligible. We respectfully urge you to publicly correct this misunderstanding immediately, so producer applications are not at a disadvantage because they are submitted late.
“Moreover, while agricultural producers have not traditionally been eligible for loans through the EIDL program, the temporary modifications made by the CARES Act signal the that prohibitions be waived in order to ensure that those who need EIDL program loans may receive them. We urge you to also clarify this matter so farmers and ranchers may apply for this assistance in a timely fashion.”