Tester Announces Small Business Administration Reopening Disaster Loan Program for Ag Producers and Businesses

Senator: “I’m pleased the SBA is executing the will of Congress by allowing these producers to apply for disaster assistance”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced another win for Montana agriculture producers and businesses as the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it was reopening the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs to applications from agricultural small businesses and producers. The eligibility for these programs was expanded to include ag producers by the interim coronavirus relief package backed by Tester and signed into law last month.

“Small and medium sized ag producers and businesses are getting the screws put to them by this pandemic, and we need to get them relief as quickly as possible,“ said Tester. “Rural America feeds the world, that’s just a fact. So I’m pleased the SBA is executing the will of Congress by allowing these producers to apply for disaster assistance because it is absolutely critical we provide them with the certainty they need to keep the wolf away from the door.”

Despite Congress expanding the EIDL program to provide additional funding and cover ag businesses, farms, and ranches with fewer than 500 employees, SBA had not reopened applications for the program to allow producers to apply, effectively shutting them out from receiving assistance. With today’s reversal, these businesses will now be able to access critical funds to continue operations.

The Tester-backed interim coronavirus relief package that expanded EIDL included $50 billion in new funds for the program, although the expansion was not included in Senator Mitch McConnell’s initial legislation, and was only added after bipartisan negotiations.

Under the Tester-backed Phase I COVID-19 legislative package signed into law in early March, the SBA can issue an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration, which makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas to provide relief from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Last month, Tester announced that qualifying businesses in every Montana county were eligible for the loans.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance per small business and can provide vital economic support to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak.