TERREBONNE, Ore. — Nonprofit farm certifier and food label, A Greener World (AGW) has learned that the Small Business Administration (SBA) is maintaining that farms and agricultural businesses are ineligible for emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs meant to mitigate the economic harm of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While aquaculture enterprises, agricultural cooperatives, and nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance, farms are specifically excluded. The impacts of COVID-19 have devastated many farm businesses due to market disruption caused by this deadly virus. With the mounting closures of restaurants and farmers’ markets, many farm businesses serving these customers have seen their sales evaporate overnight.
Recent attempts by farmers to file SBA claims have been met with an apparent rejection of eligibility after they were unable to confirm that they were “not an agricultural enterprise (e.g., farm).” While $9.5 billion in funding has been committed for local food systems and specialty producers, there is no information about how or when this will be accessible. The Farm Service Agency has an existing loan program for farmers but it is not sufficiently adapted to the current market situation of COVID-19, and at the time of writing A Greener World could find no adaptations to allow farms to access critical funds at this time.
AGW Executive Director Andrew Gunther says,
“We’re calling on all of our constituents to contact their representatives and demand urgent action to allow farmers to apply for the same relief as other businesses through the Small Business Administration–or, to put pressure on the USDA to provide resources for these farmers to access much-needed emergency funds. Along with healthcare workers, grocery stores and logistical and utility workers, farmers are on the front lines in the fight against this pandemic. They are continuing to work through unimaginable schedules and conditions–many times with no safety net and new demands of adapting to a pandemic–to provide us the food we depend on. These urgently needed loans could be the lifeline for sustainable, cutting edge farms in the United States. While funds have been allocated by Congress, no steps have been taken to expediently get this money to those who need it. As an organization working with some of the most impacted farmers we are painfully aware that resources are needed now.
While the first priority in this unprecedented and challenging time is keeping people safe and well, we also need crisis management that doesn’t sacrifice our future. If we can’t show our independent farmers the same level of appreciation we do for a multi-million dollar widget-maker, we face the very real danger of losing these farms forever–and with them, the food security of this country. We call on everyone who farms or eats to contact their representatives immediately and demand clarity on how independent farms can access the resources so readily available to other sectors.”
A Greener World offers resources and support for farmers and businesses navigating this rapid market change–through technical and marketing support, distributing important information and resources, and matching market supplies and demands. For more information on how A Greener World is responding to COVID-19 please visit https://agreenerworld.org/
A Greener World (AGW) identifies, audits, certifies and promotes practical, sustainable farming systems by supporting farmers and ranchers and informing consumers. AGW’s growing family of trusted certifications includes Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, SalmonWelfare Certified by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW and Certified Non-GMO by AGW. Each program is designed to have positive and measurable impacts on the environment, society and animals, and to encourage truly sustainable farming practices. AGW’s standards and procedures are robust, transparent and achievable.
A nonprofit funded by donations, AGW offers a range of resources to help people make informed food choices, including an Online Directory of certified farms and products and Food Labels Exposed–a definitive guide to food label claims (available in print and online). For more information visit agreenerworld.org.
— A Greener World