IARN — A bill recently introduced in the U.S. House by First District Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer aims to help farmers through the coronavirus pandemic.
Finkenauer (D-IA-01) and Republican Congressman Dan Bishop of North Carolina unveiled the bipartisan Expanding Assistance to Farmers Act of 2020 last Thursday. Finkenauer says the bill ensures farmers and Ag producers can use their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to cover rent-related expenses.
“We’re trying to make sure we provide more clarity to the Small Business Administration to make sure that they do not leave our farmers behind,” Finkenauer said Tuesday morning. “Specifically, some of our beginning farmers and our smaller family farms who may rent land or equipment. When we look at this PPP program, we needed to make sure it doesn’t just cover wages, but also the equipment and land to keep people going.”
Finkenauer says family farmers and producers should not have to be concerned about whether they can use their small business aid to cover some of their basic business expenses. She hopes this bill provides certainty.
“We pass these dollars, then they go to different agencies, and then they are doled out by the rules they put in place,” Finkenauer said. “At the very beginning, I saw states like Iowa – and even our biofuels producers – left out of this. This was part of why I wanted to make sure we had some clarity.”
“The biggest part here,” she added, “is that when we clarify this and make sure that land and equipment can also be covered, this also makes these loans forgivable. That’s the big piece here to be able to keep our folks going. It’s been a difficult road on a number of levels and this is an important piece of it.”
The Expanding Assistance to Farmers Act of 2020 was endorsed by the Iowa Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Finkenauer’s full interview can be found at the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network.