Ernst Calls for Clarity, Access to Relief for Iowa’s Farmers, Ag Industries

In a letter to the feds, Ernst writes in part: “Farmers are the backbone of many rural communities across Iowa and the nation, and it is important that we provide them with the resources and tools needed to weather the economic devastation caused by COVID-19.”

RED OAK, Iowa – After hearing from Iowa farmers throughout the state, including recent phone calls with Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Soybean Association, and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is calling for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure Iowa’s farmers, producers, ranchers, and growers have access to the relief they need during COVID-19.

Specifically, Ernst – a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Small Business Committee – is requesting SBA to provide clarity on three issues Iowa farmers have raised with the senator:

  1. Ensuring Iowa’s farmers are able to access the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Ernst writes in part: “I have heard countless stories describing the urgency of this situation in the agricultural community. Most recently, I spoke with a farmer who told me he has been forced to dump milk from his cows because he has no place to sell it, preventing him from making any income. I urge you to allow farmers to be eligible to receive EIDL loans, as COVID-19 has negatively impacted an already struggling farm economy.
  1. Approving all community banks and farm credit lenders to administer the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. In the letter, Ernst writes: “I am still hearing of community banks and farm credit lenders across Iowa that have not yet been approved to administer loans, therefore preventing farmers from being able to access the PPP. The only source of capital for many family farmers is through the Farm Credit System or small banks in their rural communities. It is critical that these lenders be approved as soon as possible so that farmers and other small businesses can access these emergency funds.
  1. Clarifying that revenue size standards do not apply for farms that participate in the PPP. Ernst writes in part: “It is my understanding that agriculture enterprises that employ 500 or less people, whose principal place of residence is in the United States, are eligible irrespective of revenue levels. However, I continue to hear that there is uncertainty in the agriculture community about this matter. It is imperative that our agriculture community knows that this program is meant for them just like any other small business.”

To read Senator Ernst’s full letter to SBA, click here.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Ernst has made it a priority to continue listening to and hearing from Iowans across the state, including farmers and producers. Since helping secure critical provisions for Iowa agriculture in the bipartisan Phase 3 relief package, Ernst has called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide immediate assistance to cattle producers. In addition, Ernst urged USDA to get additional relief to the biofuels industry through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) – which was bolstered by the bipartisan Phase 3 relief package.

Background on Ernst’s efforts to combat COVID-19:

Senator Ernst has fought to deliver relief to all Iowans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of her efforts:

  • Urged her colleagues to stop playing politics and provide additional support for workers and employers.
  • Called for bolstering the small business emergency loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Delivered major wins for Iowa’s workers, employers, health care industry, and more in the bipartisan Phase 3 package.
  • Supported  the “Phase 1” bipartisan package to provide additional resources to federal, state and local authorities.
  • Helped pass the “Phase 2” bill to provide paid sick leave, free COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and increased support for nutrition for seniors and children.
  • Called for an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Urged the Senate to prioritize relief for hospitals, community health centers, and workers on the front lines.
  • Announced a proposal to immediately redirect the over $350M in the Presidential Campaign Election Fund to be used to purchase specialized face masks and personal protective equipment.
  • Asked the State Department to immediately act to get Iowans stranded abroad back home.
  • Sought tariff relief for Iowa’s businesses by calling on Treasury to defer all tariffs during the pandemic.
  • Urged USDA to provide additional funding for Iowa’s biofuels industry negatively impacted by COVID-19 as well as the state’s livestock industry.
  • Took questions from Iowans in Dubuque and Siouxland areas on COVID-19 relief.
  • Answered questions from Iowans in Quad Cities area on COVID-19 relief.
  • Continued to listen to and answer questions from small businesses across the state.
  • Called on two federal health agencies to protect Iowa’s Medicare beneficiaries from high-risk settings and ensure safe access to care as we continue to work to combat COVID-19.
  • Held a telephone town hall with thousands of Iowans to help answer some questions and hear directly from folks.
  • Hosted another telephone town hall with Iowa’s seniors and elderly community.
  • Heard from hundreds of Iowa’s small businesses on her telephone town hall.
  • Participated in discussions at the State Emergency Operations Center with Governor Kim Reynolds.
  • Joined Governor Reynolds at her press conference to give an update on federal relief efforts.
  • Discussed the need to work together – at federal, state, and local level – to tackle COVID-19.
  • Published a column on everyone doing their part to protect seniors and fellow Iowans from COVID-19.
  • Penned a second column outlining the federal relief packages Congress passed and reminding Iowans we will get through this, together.  

For additional information for Iowans on COVID-19, you can visit Senator Ernst’s website, which includes resources for families and individualssmall businessesand seniors.

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