Farms and other agribusinesses are now eligible for the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loans — known by the initials EIDL — and EIDL Advance programs.

SBA's EIDL portal reopened May 4.

These loans are available to farmers because of legislation, called the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act, signed into law by the president April 24. It added $50 billion to the existing EIDL program.

Meghan Cline, spokesperson for the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, told the Capital Press the goal is to provide farmers and ranchers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with additional funding.

"Agricultural businesses were excluded from this funding under the first iteration of the legislation, so I'm very pleased that ag is included this time," said Veronica Nigh, an economist at the American Farm Bureau.

Nigh said the Farm Bureau, alongside 30 other national organizations, lobbied Congress requesting agricultural enterprises to be made eligible for the loans.

“For more than 30 years, SBA has been prohibited by law from providing disaster assistance to agricultural businesses," SBA  Administrator Jovita Carranza said in a statement. "However, as a result of the unprecedented legislation enacted by President Trump, American farmers, ranchers and other agricultural businesses will now have access to emergency working capital."

According to an SBA spokesperson, eligible agricultural businesses include businesses in the legal production of food and fiber, ranching, raising of livestock, aquaculture and other agriculture-related industries with 500 or fewer employees.

The maximum EIDL loan a business can apply for is $2 million, said Nigh.

The SBA started accepting new EIDL applications May 4 on a limited basis only. For agribusinesses that have already submitted an EIDL loan application through the portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process those applications without requiring applicants to re-apply.

All other applications will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Businesses should apply for EIDL loans on the SBA website (not through their lender) at: www.sba.gov/Disaster.

“These low-interest, long-term loans will help keep agricultural businesses viable while bringing stability to the nation’s vitally important food supply chains," said Carranza.

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