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North Carolina Farm Bureau continues to evaluate on a daily basis how to best respond to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and provide access to the resources most helpful for our members. These are incredibly challenging times and you have all stepped up to the plate to let the world know that we are #StillFarming. At the same time, the food supply chain and our markets have been severely impacted, causing financial strain and economic issues.

This guide is intended to help you get started as you navigate the myriad of available resources. It is not comprehensive; rather, it is intended to provide highlights and immediate access to some of the most important programs and resources available to you.

State Assistance

Funded by the State of North Carolina, the Golden LEAF Foundation, and others, and administered by the NC Rural Center, the program supports North Carolina small businesses and family farms as they recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. This rapid recovery loan helps small businesses bridge the gap between when crisis strikes and when federal loans and other relief funds are approved, or businesses have time to recover. This is not a grant program, however. Repayment is expected either from more permanent funding sources or from the future cash flow of the business. Loans are available for up to $50,000, based on the business’s current revenue. Loan sizes are capped at approximately two months of current revenue. Borrowers will have six months of no payments, followed by 48 months of principal and interest payments at 5.5% interest.

North Carolina business relief resources related to COVID-19.

NC Main Street provides a list of small business grants available in cities, counties and towns throughout the state.

This link provides access to the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Division of Employment Security, the agency responsible for the administration of unemployment insurance.

For additional information and resources, visit the dedicated COVID-19 websites provided by the NC State Extension, and the NC Chamber.

Federal Assistance

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

  • USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance program on April 17, 2020. CFAP will use funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and other USDA existing authorities. This $19 billion immediate relief program includes direct support to agricultural producers as well as the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
  • Provides direct payments to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and face additional significant market costs. Eligible commodities include:
    • Non-specialty Crops: malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat
    • Wool
    • Livestock: cattle, hogs, and sheep (lambs and yearlings only)
    • Dairy
    • Specialty Crops
    • Fruits: apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, tomatoes, watermelons
    • Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, dry onions, green onions, peppers, potatoes, rhubarb, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, taro
    • Nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts
    • Other: beans, mushrooms
  • USDA will consider additional crops to be eligible for CFAP by collecting information on potentially eligible crops. In particular, they are requesting information from nursery, aquaculture, and cut flower producers to help inform the agency on the losses suffered and payments that may be appropriate.
  • Beginning May 26, USDA’s Farm Service Agency will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses. The application form and a payment calculator for producers will be available online once signup begins.

Farm Loans

  • USDA offers a variety of funding opportunities to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners finance their businesses. Find loans that might be right for you by using the Farm Loan Discovery Tool.

Microloan Programs

  • The focus of Microloans is on the financing needs of small, beginning farmer, niche and non-traditional farm operations, such as truck farms, farms participating in direct marketing and sales such as farmers’ markets, CSA’s, restaurants and grocery stores, or those using hydroponic, aquaponic, organic and vertical growing methods.

For additional information and resources, visit the USDA’s COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide.

Paycheck Protection Program

  • A loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, mortgage interest, or utilities. Note that NCFB is seeking clarification regarding whether “rent” includes land rent and will be providing additional information as we are able.
  • Apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans

  • These loans are available to those who have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of a declared disaster. Substantial economic injury means the business is unable to meet its obligations and to pay its ordinary and necessary operating expenses. EIDLs provide the necessary working capital to help small businesses survive until normal operations resume after a disaster.
  • The SBA can provide up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred. Your loan amount will be based on your actual economic injury and your company’s financial needs, regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage. SBA is accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on a limited basis only to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance

  • Advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief ($1,000 per employee) to businesses that experience temporary difficulties. The loan advance will not have to be repaid. SBA is accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on a limited basis only to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses.

We will continue to monitor changes and update this guide as necessary to ensure you have access to the most accurate and timely information. Please consider reaching out to NCFB, your commodity organizations, and NC State Extension for additional information and help with accessing resources available.

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