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COVID-19 crisis brings Federal Aid to farmers and ranchers

WASHINGTON--Farmers and ranchers can apply for federal funds to assist their operations through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included $9.5 billion for USDA to assist farmers and ranchers.

“Farmers and ranchers in our country are continuing to encounter hardships during these unprecedented times,” said Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson. “Our nation needs a steady food supply both during this pandemic, and ensuring damages don’t have long term impacts beyond this crisis. I sent a letter to Secretary Perdue focusing Congress on the CARES Act in an effort to help food production and many other facets of the economy.”

Farmers and ranchers will have several aid programs available to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic, including programs under development by the Department of Agriculture and the Small Business Administration.

American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Veronica Nigh says the CARES Act included funding specifically for agriculture.

"There was a plus-up in CCC funding to refill previous funding levels, there’s also a $9.5 billion allotment to use at USDA’s discretion. In addition to the USDA funds, farmers can avail themselves of some programs available through the Small Business Administration," said Nigh.

Farmers are not eligible for the SBA Emergency Disaster Loan Program but can apply for assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.

"This allows farmers and small businesses to be able to pay employees for an eight week period during a range between February 13th and June 30th. So, if you are a business of 500 employees or fewer, you are eligible for that program," added Nigh.

The $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nigh says farmers and ranchers can find resources to help them navigate the programs online.

"If you go to, you can find the location of local assistance near you. It’s important to know that the Paycheck Protection Program, you don’t apply through SBA specifically, you actually apply through locally approved lenders. But SBA is providing a lot of guidance on their website where you can get more information and they also provide a list of approved local lenders," said Nigh.