Harder, Bipartisan Coalition Demand SBA Include Farmers in Coronavirus Relief Program

By: Rep. Josh Harder Press Release -- WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Representatives Josh Harder (CA-10), Antonio Delgado (NY-19) and Anthony Brindisi (NY-22) led a bipartisan letter with over 80 other members of Congress urging the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure farmers and agricultural businesses can access immediate Coronavirus relief through the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program under the recently-passed CARES Act.  The CARES Act expanded the EIDL program to enable small businesses – including farmers -  to access immediate, emergency grants. Following the bill’s passage, SBA has issued guidance making small farm operations eligible for assistance through its Paycheck Protection Program but excludes them from EIDL loan or grant eligibility. The letter makes clear that SBA’s decision is not consistent with Congress’ intent and calls on the agency to ensure EIDL eligibility for small farmers.

Signatories of the letter include Representatives:, Josh Harder, Antonio Delgado, Anthony Brindisi, Elise Stefanik, Jeff Duncan, Angie Craig, Juan Vargas, Jim Costa, Bob Gibbs, Jared Huffman, TJ Cox, Mike Thompson, David Scott, Adrian Smith, Greg Stanton, Salud Carbajal, Joe Morelle, Chellie Pingree, David Trone, Thomas R. Suozzi, Andy Harris, Mark Pocan, Abigail Spanberger, Tom O'Halleran, Chris Pappas, Jerry McNerney, Brian Higgins, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Ann Mclane Kuster, James P. McGovern, Marcy Kaptur, Jahana Hayes, Brian Fitzpatrick, Ron Kind, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Joe Courtney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Peter Welch, Suzanne Bonamici, Hank Johnson, John Joyce, Andy Kim, Ed Case, Henry Cuellar, Dwight Evans, Rick Larsen, John Katko, Cheri Bustos, Glenn Grothman, John Garamendi, Pete Stauber, Ro Khanna, Joaquin Castro, Kendra S. Horn, Vicente Gonzalez, Chrissy Houlahan, Al Lawson, Kurt Schrader, Tom Malinowski, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Jimmy Panetta, Susan DelBene, Collin Peterson, Tim Ryan, Ann Kirkpatrick, Peter DeFazio, Lori Trahan, Josh Gottheimer, Emanuel Cleaver, Paul Tonko, Cindy Axne, Jennifer Wexton, Nydia Velazquez, Troy Balderson, Abby Finkenauer, Julia Brownley, H. Morgan Griffith, J. Luis Correa, John B. Larson, Mike Gallagher, Tom Reed, Dave Loebsack, Donald McEachin, Xochitl Torres Small,Stacey E. Plaskett, Denver Riggleman.

The text of the letter is below and an original copy is available here

Dear Administrator Carranza:

We write to urge your immediate attention and swift action on an issue that threatens to discriminate against rural areas and the farmers that are the backbone of rural economies. 

On March 27, the House passed the CARES Act (PL 116-136) to respond to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and the bill was then signed into law. Because the public health measures necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus are taking a particular toll on small businesses, including our nation’s farmers, the CARES Act provides a broad range of assistance to help tide over small businesses that might otherwise not be able to survive the impact. 

Among those provisions, Section 1110 of the CARES Act creates an emergency economic injury grant program. In recognition that the coronavirus is affecting many types of entities that may not traditionally be considered small businesses, this provision expands the eligibility criteria in the underlying economic injury disaster loan program. 

As a result, we were shocked and disappointed that, contrary to Congressional intent, the Small Business Administration singles out farmers and agricultural businesses as ineligible for this program. We ask that you share the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s rationale for excluding farms from this program, including any statutory limitations on aiding farmers.

We urge you to ensure that agricultural businesses and farmers are eligible to access the EIDL program, and the other small business provisions in the CARES act. Farmers need our help to make it through this pandemic while continuing to feed American families, fuel our economy, and sustain other resources which are essential to our survival. Now more than ever we must provide our farmers and rural communities with federal assistance needed to combat this pandemic and not turn our backs on these communities.

Thank you, Administrator Carranza, for your attention to this critical matter, and for SBA’s work to address the economic impacts of this pandemic. SBA’s swift action on this issue will help alleviate the concerns of our nation’s family farms, which are vital to our country and our communities.

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