(WASHINGTON) Only a tiny fraction of American farmers have been able to access coronavirus relief through the Paycheck Protection Plan loan program.
The Farm Bureau says many farmers are self-employed and lost money last year due to the trade wars, making them ineligible for PPP loans.
But the Farm Bureau is asking Congress to change the language in the next coronavirus relief package to be sure they get needed aid.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn says Congress quickly created the Paycheck Protection Program in April to help small businesses stay open.
But RJ Karney with the American Farm Bureau Federation says a majority of farmers were left out.
“The way the regulations are currently written, if a sole proprietor has a zero or a negative net farm income, they are essentially ineligible to participate in the paycheck protection program,” Karney said.
Karney says that means that 86% of U.S. farmers who identify as self-employed and lost money last year due to the trade wars don’t qualify for a PPP loan.
He’s asking Congress to change the wording of who qualifies.
“This would significantly increase the amount of sole proprietors that would be eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program,” Karney said.
“We knew that doing something that big and that fast, it wasn’t going to be perfect but we knew it was an emergency,” said Cornyn.
Cornyn says replenishing and revising the PPP program is one of Congress’ priorities as they return to Washington this week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he hopes to pass the next coronavirus relief bill by the end of the month.