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Congress passes PPP Covid relief

WASHINGTON—In Washington, the just signed Coronavirus aid package includes new and needed Paycheck Protection benefits for American farmers.

The Paycheck Protection Program was designed by Congress to help small businesses stay open and keep their employees on the payroll. Pat Wolff, of the American Farm Bureau, says the important program worked to keep businesses and farms running during the first wave of COVID-19.

The way that it did that was to provide loans, and then forgive repayment of the loans were used for three things: wages, mortgages/rent, and utilities,” said Wolff.

Wolff says when Congress passed the PPP, they were very clear that the loan amount would not be taxable. She says the Treasury Department took an unfortunately different position.

They were going to deny tax deductions for expenses paid with those loans, and so, in effect, they were canceling out Congress’s intent to provide those loans tax-free. And that is one thing that got fixed in the bill that passed last week and was signed into law by the president,” said Wolff.

Wolff says the COVID-19 relief bill also had another important item that will benefit American farmers.

The COVID relief bill did one other thing that will be helpful to farmers, and that is it expanded the things that PPP loans can be used for. The bill added personal protective devices, so now, when a farm employer has to buy special gear or make accommodations for his workers to stay safe, you can use PPP loans for that and have the repayment forgiven,” said Wolff.

As farmers face the second wave, the new PPP might keep them in business.