The NCC urged additional CARES Act funding be authorized for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.
What recent steps has the NCC taken?
■ One of the more important actions in the past two months was NCC’s coordination with Congressional allies to include important agricultural, small business and tax relief measures in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES).
Chairman Kent Fountain expressed the industry’s gratitude to Sens. John Boozman and Mark Warner who led a bipartisan letter from 21 senators to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that highlighted industrywide losses and urged support of our industry’s relief recommendations conveyed to USDA.
The NCC joined 164 other national groups on a letter to House/Senate leadership requesting authorization of additional CARES Act funding for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Soon after, President Trump signed congressionally approved legislation containing a $484 billion coronavirus package to replenish relief/assistance programs created in the CARES Act. That legislation, which included $321 billion for the PPP, also allowed farms to be eligible for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
The NCC then joined 37 other agriculture groups and businesses on a letter to congressional leaders
1) requesting changes to PPP as the agricultural, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors received only 1.3% of the original $349 billion in approved funding and
2) noting that the PPP implementation made it challenging for farmers and ranchers to participate.
The NCC also joined numerous other agricultural, manufacturing and business organizations on a letter to congressional and administration leaders requesting emergency legislative and administrative action that led to the president signing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act.
That legislation made numerous technical but substantive changes to previously issued and future PPP loans. For current PPP borrowers, the legislation allows 24 weeks to use the funds instead of eight weeks and for up to 40% (not 25%) of loan funds for non-payroll costs and still have the loan forgiven.
For prospective borrowers, it extends the time to use the funds to Dec. 31. Regarding taxes, the NCC joined 151 other agricultural and business associations on a letter to the chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee conveying concerns over PPP’s tax implications, specifically an IRS ruling that would significantly increase loan recipients’ tax liability.
Any other significant actions?
■ Following USDA’s release of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) details, the NCC
1) prepared a CFAP summary that included an example calculation for upland cotton and
2) advised USDA that some producers across the Cotton Belt were having CFAP signup trouble.
The NCC also submitted comments to USDA urging ELS cotton’s eligibility for CFAP. The NCC also urged Congress to provide USDA with the necessary funding/policy direction for critical support to the textile manufacturing and merchandising segments as well as 2020 crop year support for producers.Among other COVID-19-related actions, the NCC joined more than 200 organizations on a letter urging Congress to provide temporary and targeted liability protections for businesses struggling to reopen and operate safely during the crisis.
It also worked with USDA and other federal agencies to provide relief on H-2A visa processing to ensure guest workers can get to their agricultural employers in a timely manner.
The letters mentioned above and other COVID-related information are on the NCC’s COVID-19 resources page at www.cotton.org/issues/members/covid19/index.cfm.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.