Local representatives want farms to be included in federal relief effort

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FILE – In this May 23, 2019, file photo, a farmer plants soybeans in a field in Springfield, Neb. China’s imports of soybeans surged in November following the announcement of an interim trade deal with the United States. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) joined over 80 representatives in asking the Small Business Administration to consider farms and agribusinesses eligible for an emergency grant program launched last week.

The emergency economic injury grant program was included in the CARES Act passed by the House on March 27. It is aimed at helping small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.

The program has expanded eligibility for an existing economic injury disaster loan program, but farmers and agricultural businesses are still considered ineligible.

In a letter, the bipartisan group of lawmakers asked the SBA to explain why farms were excluded:

“Farmers need our help to make it through this pandemic while continuing to feed American families, fuel our economy, and sustain other resources which are essential to our survival. Now more than ever we must provide our farmers and rural communities with federal assistance needed to combat this pandemic.”

In addition to that request, over 30 farming organizations sent a letter to the SBA with similar demands.

“Farms and agribusinesses in the North Country make significant contributions to our economy,” Rep. Stefanik said. “It is our turn to provide them some type of relief in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.”

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