Forgotten Farmers Call on Congress for Relief in Next COVID-19 Loan Package

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WASHINGTON DC (Nexstar) – Only a tiny fraction of U.S. farmers have been able to access coronavirus relief through the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loan.

The American Farm Bureau Federation is calling on Congress to change the language of the upcoming coronavirus relief program to include all farmers and expand access to PPP loans until harvest.

RJ Karney of the American Farm Bureau Federation says farmers are running out of fuel – fast. US Senator John Cornyn said Congress was trying to respond with unprecedented speed.

Cornyn says Congress quickly created the Paycheck Protection Program in April to help small businesses stay open, but Karney says a majority of farmers have been left behind.

“The way the regulations are currently worded, if a sole proprietor has zero or negative net farm income, they are essentially ineligible to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program,” Karney said.

Karney says 86% of American farmers, who identify as self-employed and lost money last year due to trade wars, are not eligible for a PPP loan. He’s asking Congress to change the wording of who qualifies.

“This would dramatically increase the number of Sole Proprietorships eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program,” Karney said.

“We knew doing something that big and that fast… it wasn’t going to be perfect, but we knew it was an emergency,” said Cornyn.

Cornyn says resupplying and revising the PPP program is a top priority for Congress as they return to Washington DC this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he hopes to pass the next coronavirus relief bill by the end of the month.

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