Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has advised growers and other agriculture-related businesses they can apply for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The program is part of the $2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act.
The PPP loans are designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The loans will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. All terms will be the same for all applicants.
SBA will forgive PPP loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. All agriculture businesses are eligible as long as size standards are met. This program is for small businesses with less than 500 employees, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons.
Applicants may apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured deposit institution, federally insured credit union and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. Applicants should ask their local lenders whether they are participating in the program.
Lenders were able to begin processing loan applications April 3, 2020, and the program will be available through June 30, 2020. Application forms may be found here.
“We’re thankful for this quick action being taken to provide support for our agriculture producers and businesses,” Fried stated in a media release about the PPP. “Florida agriculture is the backbone of our economy and a pillar of strength through times of crisis. Florida’s agriculture community works tirelessly to meet the need for farm-fresh nutrition. We are committed to supporting our growers and agriculture workers every way that we can.”
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