Black farmers hit hard by the coronavirus are eligible for disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
For the first time in three decades, the SBA will make the loans solely available to businesses involved with the legal production of food and fiber, ranching, raising of livestock, aquaculture (farming of fish) as well as all other farming and agricultural-related industries.
U.S. farmers can seek the loans through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. Congress last month approved another $60 billion for EIDL. Farmers were not eligible to apply for an earlier round of EIDL funding of $17 billion that was exhausted in mid-April.
Farmers and other agriculture businesses can apply for up to $150,000 per application, says SBA spokeswoman Carol Chastang.
There are around 45,508 black farmers in the country, according to figures from the 2017 Census of Agriculture.
“For more than 30 years, SBA has been prohibited by law from providing disaster assistance to agricultural businesses; however, as a result of the unprecedented legislation enacted by President Trump, American farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural businesses will now have access to emergency working capital,” SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said in a news release. “These low-interest, long-term loans will help keep agricultural businesses viable while bringing stability to the nation’s vitally important food supply chains.”
The SBA is now accepting new EIDL applications on a limited basis, but only to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses. The initial CARES Act EIDL funding ended April 15 and resumed May 4. Farmers who applied for EIDL previously don’t need to reapply. The agency said it will move forward and process the applications without the need for reapplying.
To qualify for the loans, agricultural businesses must have 500 or fewer employees. Chastang added agri-businesses must show repayment ability, which the SBA determines after reviewing the applicant’s credit history. Farmers will work directly with the SBA to apply and obtain loans.
Farmers, like other businesses, have been impacted hard by the COVID-19 crisis, which has pushed crop and livestock prices down and boosted concerns about labor shortages, CNBC reported in late March.
Chastang reflected on how the new funding may benefit operators in the agricultural industry.
“The change in the EIDL eligibility presents an unprecedented opportunity for agri-businesses as they manage the task of keeping their small businesses solvent during these challenging times,” she says.
To apply and to get more details, visit the SBA.