With the recent passage of the Stimulus package, there has been a new flurry of activity. We’ve identified two areas that may have significant benefits for our membership and that you should continue to monitor.
The first is the Paycheck Protection Program administered by the Small Business Administration. The program is loan designed to provide an incentive for small businesses to keep employees on the payroll. These loans will be forgiven as long as all employees are kept on for eight weeks, and the money loaned is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. We urge all businesses with less than 500 employees to look into this program.
The second program is the $9.5 billion that was allocated for COVID-19 damages to the Specialty Crop industry. The beef and dairy industries are also included, and we fully expect that this fund will be significantly oversubscribed. CCM is working with colleagues across the country push for specialty crop growers to get their fair share. The United States Department of Agriculture is now evaluating the best methodologies to award the funds to those impacted. The largest impacts to date have been felt by commodities that deal heavily in the foodservice sector, while retail has seen increased sales. This trend may not continue as the surge at the grocery stores have slowed and sales have started to slide. As we work with USDA to implement this program, the most powerful tool is real economic loss data that we can show. Please work with your packinghouses and marketers to quantify any losses that can be attributed to COVID-19 and get that data to us at CCM.
Lastly, I just wanted to thank all of you again for your efforts to ensure a safe working environment in the fields and packinghouses. These efforts will continue to allow us to operate during this pandemic and have kept at bay unnecessary burdens. Please continue to educate your employees on the things they can do to keep themselves safe at the workplace and at home.