The American Farm Bureau Federation wants to see a better Paycheck Protection Program in Congress's next coronavirus relief package.
The Senate returns to session next week to take up the stimulus package that includes Paycheck Protection. The Farm Bureau’s RJ Karney says farmers and ranchers need changes:
"The Paycheck Protection Program provided vital assistance to farmers and ranchers who were able to participate. However, there are additional changes that Farm Bureau wants to see made that would significantly improve and make more farmers eligible to participate in the program," said Karney.
Farm Bureau sent a letter to lawmakers seeking many changes to the program but has two top priorities.
"The current rules of the Paycheck Protection Program state that if a farmer has a net loss in their previous year's tax return, they are ineligible for the program. This is why Farm Bureau is supporting the Paycheck Protection and Producers Act. This act would base eligibility for farmers and ranchers on gross receipts, as opposed to net farm income. Another barrier has been the uncertainty on whether or not farmers and ranchers can count their H-2A workers. Current IRS guidelines are unclear, and it’s really a lender to lender decision on whether or not H-2A workers are eligible," said Karney.
Karney says only 1.5 percent of the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sectors have received loans through the program.
"Farm Bureau believes this was the case of a slow rollout of farmers and ranchers being deemed eligible to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program and other technical corrections that need to be addressed by Congress. This is why Farm Bureau is calling on the Senate and the House of Representatives to make changes to the Paycheck Protection Program so that more farmers can fully participate," said Karney.
With an uncertain harvest in the time of COVID, farmers need all the help they can get.