NFU: New Stimulus Package Provides Funding for Rural Communities
WASHINGTON – In a unanimous vote, the Senate on Tuesday passed a $484 billion deal to deliver funding to small businesses, hospitals, and local governments. The House is expected to take up the bill today.
The package allocates $310 billion to replenish the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which ran out of funding last week. Of that, $60 billion is set aside for underbanked businesses.
An additional $60 billion has been earmarked for loans and grants for economic disaster assistance, including $50 billion for the SBA Disaster Loans Program account – which will support $350 billion in loans – and $10 billion more for the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) emergency grants.
Under the agreement, farmers would be eligible for both low interest loans and emergency grants through EIDL, a change National Farmers Union (NFU) called for on March 31. The organization is relieved that this issue will likely be resolved legislatively. However, NFU remains concerned that program funding for both PPP and EIDL will run out quickly, and before all those eligible can access much-needed support.
Though SBA programs are a necessary resource for those enduring economic hardship as a result of the pandemic, they are not designed with the unique needs of farmers and rural communities in mind. As such, additional support from Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will likely be needed.
The deal also provides $75 billion for hospitals, including $825 million specifically for rural health clinics and community health centers. Another $25 billion is designated to “research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests,” $11 billion of which will go to states, localities and territories, $225 million to rural health clinics, and up to $1 billion to provide testing for those who are uninsured.
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.