COVID-19 has caused unprecedented economic repercussions for agricultural producers. Several federal and state programs have been created to help farmers, and others in the food and agricultural industry, weather the difficult economic situation. But it can be difficult to navigate the programs and understand how to apply for financial assistance.
If you’d like more information about the programs available for farmers, please check out the University of Minnesota Extension’s new online guide at z.umn.edu/2020FarmPrograms. This online guide has the most up-to-date information about availability and eligibility along with links directly to the entities at which you can apply for the funding.
The online guide has information about several additional programs, along with deeper explanations of each program; I am providing an overview of some of the available programs along with contact information. Some programs require that you work with your lender, some are directly through government organizations, and there are different criteria for eligibility.
The University of Minnesota Farm Information Line can put you in touch with the Extension Ag Business Management team members who can explain these different financial programs. The phone line is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, through June 30. Outside of these hours, leave a voicemail and your call will be returned the next business day. You can email anytime. Call: 1-800-232-9077. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the Small Business Administration about Emergency Injury Disaster Loans, which are federal, low-interest, need-based loans available for small businesses, including agricultural enterprises. There are also Emergency Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advances, which are smaller, quickly processed loan advances that are forgivable. These loans are available for agricultural enterprises. Call: 612-370-2324
You can learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program from the Small Business Administration as well, but you would apply through your local participating bank or lending institution that works with the Small Business Administration. These are federal, potentially forgivable, low-interest loans. Agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers are eligible for PPP loans if the business has 500 or fewer employees, or the business fits within the revenue-based sized standard, which is average annual receipts of $1 million.
You can apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program through your county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program provides direct federal support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted by COVID-19. Agricultural producers of specialty crops, corn, soybeans, hard red spring wheat, dairy, hogs, beef, wool, and other commodities experiencing at least a five percent price decline due to coronavirus are eligible. Due to COVID-19, FSA Service Centers are not currently taking in-person appointments, but you can call the office. Wright County FSA Service Center can be reached by calling 763-682-1982 Extension 2
There are additional federal and state programs available for farmers and they are encouraged to call these entities or visit z.umn.edu/2020FarmPrograms for more information.