Kind insists that farmers be allowed to use COVID-19 relief for rent
Congressman writes to Mnuchin pressing for clarity
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — U.S. Rep. Ron Kind sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin insisting on immediate clarification on whether farmers can spend money they receive in the Paycheck Protection Program for land rent.
Confusion abounds, even though Congress made it clear that the PPP created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act it passed last month would be fully available to farmers, the La Crosse Democrat said.
“Congress used an expansive definition for eligible uses in PPP to allow for small businesses, including farms, to tailor the program to their immediate needs. However, many entities that have to administer these loans have provided mixed messages on eligibility for agricultural entities,” Kind said.
“With nearly forty percent of farmland in the contiguous United States being rented, there is no time for delay and SBA must immediately clarify that land rent is an eligible use of funds in PPP,” said Kind, whose 3rd District includes La Crosse, Adams, Buffalo, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Pepin, Pierce, Portage, Trempealeau and Vernon counties, as well as parts of Chippewa, Jackson, Juneau, Monroe, Richland and Wood counties.
Farmers were reeling even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Kind said, adding, “In Wisconsin alone, two dairy farms closed every day last year. Farmers were hoping to see some much-needed relief this year.”
Kind declared as “completely unacceptable that there is any question about whether family farms are eligible for this program — especially on whether they’re able to use it to pay their rent checks. Just like other small businesses who need to pay their rent for their facilities, farmers who rent land need to pay their bills to keep their operations running.”
Without immediate assistance, small farmers who rent land might be forced to end production and many of those who lease land to the farmers rely on the rental income to pay their own bills, he said.
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