On April 1, 2020, Growth Energy joined 30 of our agricultural partners in sending a letter to U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza requesting the SBA clarify its guidance to include agricultural businesses as eligible to participate in the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program as modified in the CARES Act.
In the letter, the group writes that, “Agricultural producers and businesses are critical elements of this nation’s economy and food system. Prior to COVID-19, farmers and ranchers had already experienced a drastic 24-percent decline in net farm income from highs experienced just six years ago. With the further downturn in the economy, agricultural businesses are at risk of closure and may be required to lay off employees…
“Since the term “eligible entity” under the CARES Act includes “a business with not more 500 employees” and since Congress did not explicitly exclude agricultural businesses from this definition, agricultural businesses can qualify for EIDL loans during 2020 to respond to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 notwithstanding the traditional exclusion of agricultural businesses from the EIDL program.
“Many agricultural producers need access to this critical source of financing to help preserve their businesses and avoid further disruptions to our economy and food systems.
“We believe that the clear statutory language of the CARES Act indicates that agricultural businesses can participate in the emergency EIDL program as was the intent of Congress. Accordingly, we ask that the SBA immediately modify the website listed above and quickly issue guidance clarifying that agricultural enterprises can participate in the EIDL program in the context of the on-going COVID-19 disaster.”