You’ve likely seen that both the Minnesota state legislature and the federal legislature passed financial relief laws in response to the COVID-19 situation. But what do they mean financially for farmers and other agricultural small business owners? This article offers a short summary of some of the recent legislation.
The Families FIRST Act requires all employers to offer paid sick time for eligible absences related to COVID-19. Farmers are not exempt from this requirement.
The CARES Act created the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which can cover 2.5 months of payroll or owner’s compensation for small businesses. This includes most self-employed farmers (with or without additional employees). The application period runs through August 8. Additional laws included more PPP forgivable loan funding and made agricultural enterprises eligible for another Small Business Administration program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs and EIDL advances).
The CARES Act also created partial funding for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Producers whose products saw price declines or who had increased marketing costs earlier this year because of COVID-19 are eligible. Most crops and livestock (but no poultry), milk, many specialty crops, and wool qualify for payments. Eligibility is generally for losses incurred between January 15 and April 15. To see if you qualify and get help preparing an application, call or email your local Farm Service Agency office. Or, you can apply online at farmers.gov/cfap. The application period runs through August 28.
Like the federal government, Minnesota also enacted several provisions to help farmers. For example, Minnesota’s Rural Finance Authority has additional low interest loans available to help farmers during this time. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has several other programs, too. The AGRI Safe at the Farmer’s Market Cost Share and AGRI Safe at the Farm Cost Share provide financial assistance to farmer’s markets and direct-to-consumer farms to purchase equipment and supplies to keep markets, vendors, and customers safe and operational.
Details on federal programs are available at blog-abm-news.extension.umn.edu. A brief summary of financial programs is available at z.umn.edu/2020FarmPrograms. More information on COVID-19 from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is available at www.mda.state.mn.us/covid-19-agriculture.
To talk to an Extension expert on these programs, Extension’s Ag Business Management team partnered with Extension’s Farm Information Line (FIL). Trained agricultural experts are available to take your call. Call the Farm Information Line at 1 (800) 232-9077. Afterhours: Leave a voicemail and the Farm Information Line will return your call the next business day. Anytime: Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.