COVID-19 Headlines for Horticulture

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Some key COVID-19 developments over the past two weeks:

  • Congress has refreshed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), allowing the reopening of a program that many horticulture businesses have turned to for loans that may be at least partially forgiven.
  • The latest Treasury/SBA “frequently asked questions” finally provides some clarification on whether H-2A and H-2B workers’ payroll may be included for PPP purposes. The short answer is mostly “yes,” but AmericanHort has specific guidance available.
  • Congress has fixed an eligibility glitch that prevented most agricultural businesses from applying for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). However, SBA says it has run out of funding, rendering the fix irrelevant unless funding is refreshed.
  • New guidance is out on the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending program, which is intended to provide a safety net for businesses too large to apply for the SBA programs (see related story).
  • What about agricultural disaster relief for growers? AmericanHort and the California Farm Bureau on April 30 sent an informational memo to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service administrator Bruce Summer outlining technical approaches. USDA relief is expected to be formalized soon, though strict payment limits may limit its effect.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently published a temporary rule intended to make it easier for H-2A workers who are finishing a work contract in the U.S. to be transferred into a new approved agricultural job opportunity and remain working in the U.S. AmericanHort has new guidance on how the temporary changes work. 
  • Finally, some good news as horticultural businesses in states like Michigan, which had strict closure policies, are beginning to reopen.
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