Rep. Kind demands farmers get access to small business emergency funds for land rent
Rep. Ron Kind sent a letter to Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin on April 6, demanding that he provide immediate clarity for farmers’ eligibility for the paycheck protection program (PPP) that was created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed by Congress last month.
Due to low commodity prices and a seemingly never-ending trade war, agriculture has been hit hard in recent years. In Wisconsin alone, two dairy farms closed every day last year. Farmers were hoping to see some much-needed relief this year, only to find themselves in chaos as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread.
Despite Congress opening the program to include all small businesses, particularly agriculture, there is still little clarity for farmers on how they can spend this money. Congress made it clear that they intended for agriculture to be fully eligible for PPP, however, there is still confusion on eligibility rules for agriculture.
“It is completely unacceptable that there is any question about whether family farms are eligible for this program—especially on whether they’re able to use it to pay their rent checks. Just like other small businesses who need to pay their rent for their facilities, farmers who rent land need to pay their bills to keep their operations running,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “Now more than ever, we need a steady supply of food so Wisconsin families can stay safe and healthy. The Treasury needs to take immediate action to ensure lenders know that agriculture is fully eligible for these programs.”
Nearly 40% of farmland in the contiguous United States is rented. Without this immediate assistance, small farmers who rent land to farm may be forced to end production, and many of those who lease land to those who are willing and able to farm on the land rely on this rental income to pay their own bills.