Resources to help farmers get through this pandemic

Options for farmers during pandemic
Posted at 9:00 AM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 10:01:30-04

DE PERE (NBC 26) -- As farmers work to get through this pandemic, agriculture experts and lenders said there are several resources out there that can help.

UW-Extension Brown County agriculural educator Liz Binversie explained some of the options farmers can turn to. They are outlined below.

  • Paycheck Protection Program - This Small Business Adminstration (SBA) program is open to farmers. Binversie said farmers need to go through a bank within the SBA network to see if they are eligible to apply. This program is meant to primarily cover payroll costs.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans - This is another SBA program. Right now, it is only open to agricultural businesses. Binversie believes that will help farmers get through and get the funding they need.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance - This is a state program. Farmers could be eligible if they are no longer working because of the coronavirus. In general, farmers are not eligibile for the program if they are still working, even if they're losing profits. However, there are several scenarios farmers can look at.

Binversie said that while these programs can be beneficial, farmers should proceed with care. It can help to work with a financial advisor or lender, but it's often up to the burrower to know the rules and regulations.

“I strongly caution and urge farmers to read the fine print and know what you’re getting into before they make that decision,” she said.

Another option for farmers could be the Dairy Revenue Protection Program. Basically, this program is a safeguard for farmers when milk prices decline like they have currently.

Lenders at Compeer Financial, which helped process $152 million in agricultural PPP loans, said farmers should examine which program might be best for them. Every situation will be different.