USDA announces $1bn in loan guarantees for rural businesses

Co-ops are among businesses that could benefit from this measure

The US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced up to US$1bn (£810m) in loan guarantees to help rural businesses cope with the costs of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The US Department of Agriculture has also confirmed that agricultural producers that are not eligible for its Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding through provisions in its Business and Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program, included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Ensuring more rural agricultural producers are able to gain access to much-needed capital in these unprecedented times is a cornerstone of that commitment,” said Mr Perdue.

The loans must be used as working capital to prevent, prepare for or respond to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The applications will be considered in the order they are received, confirmed the USDA.

Applications will be accepted until 15 September 2021, or until funds are expended. 

Apex NCBA Clusa, which represents co-ops across the nation, hosted a webinar on 1 June to explore the eligibility criteria for co-operatives wishing to apply for loans under this programme.

The webinar featured Doug O’Brien, president and CEO, NCBA CLUSA; Chuck Conner, president and CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; Bette Brand, deputy undersecretary of Rural Development, USDA; and Mark Brodziski, acting administrator of Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA.