La Crosse, WI— Today, Reps. Ron Kind and Mike Gallagher sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza urging them to provide clear and direct guidance for dairy farmers accessing the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed late last month. Dairy operations are unique businesses, and lenders administering the influx of PPP applications are struggling to respond to questions about dairy farmers’ eligibility. Without additional guidance on PPP, many dairy operations could lose out on this vital lifeline and may not survive.
“With two farms closing a day in Wisconsin even before this pandemic, there is no time to wait for Wisconsin dairy farmers. Congress was clear – these loans should be available to all businesses with 500 or fewer employees, which includes farms. It is unacceptable that there continues to be uncertainty for anyone but especially our dairy farmers,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “The Administration needs to move quickly to ensure there aren’t any more delays for our small business owners and farmers.”
“Confusion surrounding whether dairy farms qualify to receive loans through the Paycheck Protection Program can be easily resolved with clear guidance from the SBA,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher. “Just like any other small business, dairy farms should be eligible to receive these funds, and I hope the SBA issues the clarity lenders need to make these loans available as soon as possible.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to threaten Wisconsin’s already struggling dairy economy, with some farmers being forced to dispose of thousands of gallons of fresh milk daily due to a drop in demand for dairy products typically consumed in schools, restaurants, and food services. For the past two years, Wisconsin has led the nation in farm bankruptcies with an average of two dairy farms closing a day.
Read the letter here.