Knowledge Exchange Partner
Update on Government Relief Programs
Volume 15, Issue 10
Since the emergence of COVID-19 in early 2020, the U.S. Federal Government has put forth a large number of economic relief programs in an attempt to shore up the overall economy, as well as to support farming, fishing and forestry more specifically. With an “alphabet soup” of acronyms and varying effective dates, it’s hard to keep track of what’s available to producers. Following is a summary of some major economic relief programs and their current status.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
Monetary draws from the PPP ended May 31, 2021. The program is currently processing loan forgiveness applications.
PPP funds are required to be repaid unless the borrower successfully completes a forgiveness application based on their use of the funds for purposes specifically allowed under the program. Borrowers can apply for forgiveness any time up to the maturity date of the loan. If borrowers do not apply for forgiveness within 10 months after the last day of the covered period, then PPP loan payments are no longer deferred, and borrowers must begin making loan payments to their PPP lender. A borrower can apply for forgiveness once all loan proceeds for which the borrower is requesting forgiveness have been used and they have the required documentation.
To avoid having to make payments, all 2020 loan recipients should have applied for forgiveness by now. Although payments for most 2021 PPP loan recipients do not begin until sometime in 2022, most of those with PPP loans of $150,000 or less, and some with loan amounts in excess of $150,000 can now apply.
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
There were two rounds of funding under the CFAP program. CFAP round one is closed. The program distributed $11 billion to producers of eligible commodities affected by COVID-19 market disruptions.
CFAP round two was reopened to new and modified applications on April 5, 2021 and will close on October 12. Round two of the program greatly expanded the list of eligible commodities and made application easier. Eligible commodities include: Aquaculture, Poultry, Dairy, Floriculture and Nursery crops, Livestock, Major Row Crops, Tobacco, Wool, and other Specialty Livestock and Crops.
Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program (PRS)
The PRS Grant program will assist small businesses in certain commodity areas, including specialty crop producers, shellfish farming, finfish farming, aquaculture, and apiculture; specialty crop, meat, and other processors; distributors; and farmers markets. Small businesses and nonprofits in these industries can apply for a grant to cover COVID-related expenses such as workplace safety measures (e.g., personal protective equipment (PPE), retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety, shifting to online sales platforms, transportation, worker housing, and medical costs. Applications are being accepted through November 22, 2021. The minimum funding request is $1,500 and the maximum funding request is $20,000.
Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers (PATHH)
Loggers and truckers can apply for assistance from July 22, 2021 through October 15. Timber harvesting and hauling businesses that have experienced a gross revenue loss of at least 10% during the period of Jan. 1 to Dec. 1, 2020, compared to the period of Jan. 1 to Dec. 1, 2019, are eligible to apply. Payments will be based on the applicant’s gross revenue received from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 1, 2019, minus gross revenue received from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 1, 2020, multiplied by 80%.
FSA will issue an initial payment equal to the lesser of the calculated payment amount or $2,000 as applications are approved. A second payment will be made after the signup period has ended based upon remaining PATHH funds. The maximum amount that a person or legal entity may receive directly is $125,000.
COVID-19 Fisheries Assistance
$255 million in fisheries assistance funding was provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The funding is allocated to states and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID-19. “Fishery-related businesses” include: commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, dealers and other fishery-related businesses. Eligible fishery participants should work with their state marine fisheries management agencies, or territories, to understand the process for applying for these funds.
Dairy Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program (PMVAP)
Through the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program, USDA will provide more than $350 million in pandemic assistance payments to dairy farmers who received a lower value due to market abnormalities caused by the pandemic and ensuing Federal policies.
- Payments will reimburse qualified dairy farmers for 80% of the revenue difference per month based on an annual production of up to five million pounds of milk marketed and on fluid milk sales from July through December 2020.
- USDA will make payments through agreements with independent handlers and cooperatives. Handlers and cooperatives will distribute the monies on the same basis July - December 2020 payments were made to their dairy farmer suppliers.
Farm and Food Workers Relief Grant Program (FFWR)
This program is focused on farm and food workers, rather than farms or farm owners. The Farm and Food Worker Relief Grant Program provides approximately $700 million in Consolidated Appropriations Act funds to provide grants to state agencies, tribal entities, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.
Entities receiving awards will then distribute relief payments to frontline farmworkers and meatpacking workers who incurred expenses preparing for, preventing exposure to, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers should apply to grant recipients to receive funds – contact information will be available in late fall 2021.
Farmers to Families Food Box Program
The USDA Food Box program ended May 31, 2021, after distributing 174 million boxes of fresh produce, milk, dairy and cooked meats to disadvantaged Americans across the country. The program is partially replaced by The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Organizations interested in distributing USDA Foods in their community should contact their State Distributing Agency to learn how to become a TEFAP local agency.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund
The American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023. Eligible entities who have experienced pandemic-related revenue loss include:
- Food stands, food trucks, food carts
- Bars, saloons, lounges, taverns
- Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars
- Bakeries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
- Brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
- Breweries or microbreweries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
- Wineries and distilleries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
- Inns (onsite sales of food and beverage to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
- Licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample or purchase products
Employee Retention Credit (ERC)
The American Rescue Plan Act, enacted March 11, 2021, added section 3134 to the Internal Revenue Code to amend and extend the employee retention credit until December 31, 2021. There are two ways a business can qualify for the ERC:
- The business was either fully or partially shut down due to a government order.
- Or there was a significant decline of gross receipts comparing quarter over quarter.
Eligible employers can claim a refundable tax credit for a portion of each employee’s wages up to a maximum of $14,000 per employee in 2021.