Applications Open for SBA Paycheck Protection Program forgivable business loans
The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that, effective April 3rd, applications are being accepted through its lenders for the new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This forgivable-loan program will help cover payroll, utility, rent and mortgage expenses for up to eight weeks. Agriculture, food and floral firms with less than 500 employees are generally eligible.
While you should see your lender for specific details, here are key documents to learn more:
A related loan program is the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
Fresh Produce and Floral Industry Members Connect on Latest COVID-19 Disruptions: Global Trade Update
Members of the fresh produce and floral supply chain connected in virtual roundtables on April 1 around the most pressing COVID-19 pandemic disruptions directly impacting them and their businesses.
Here are the top themes, insights and challenges about global trade.
The market in China has stabilized and demand is getting back to normal as consumers understand that produce is associated with health benefits. However, there is concern in China of a second wave of outbreaks. On the shipping situation in China, importers are concerned about their availability to shipping supply – will some lines be cut? E-commerce is booming. Retail is starting to get back to normal, with wholesale still soft. In terms of domestic production, table grapes, citrus and apples are selling particularly well. Chinese importers can now apply for an exemption of U.S. tariffs, which should help make U.S. suppliers more competitive.
The market in Peru was also discussed. A quarantine was put in place on March 16 and is being strictly enforced. All businesses have ground to a halt, except essential industries. The biggest challenges for growers revolve around the logistics of labor and keeping the paid workforce productive. It was noted that it is important to keep the payment chain going to avoid shortages in working capital, consumer demand and supply chain.
Also discussed in the session was the change in sales volume both pre and now in the middle of COVID-19 outbreak. In China, food prices increased until the government stepped in to regulate. Now there is no panic buying and the government is making sure retailers are open to decrease consumer panic.
Air transportation was also noted as a challenge. In the case of Chile and Peru, air transportation is down to 30% of normal. Few cargo planes are still in use, and those are expensive. There is a challenge for those goods shipped as belly freight via passenger airlines, as some lines have come entirely to a halt. This will affect the exportation of subtropics and other products that rely on airfreight. There will continue to be challenges getting containers back to origin as retail demands in LATAM start to decline.
The overall biggest challenge noted by the group was uncertainty. There is no sense of how long it will last or how bad it will be. We can look to Asia for patterns and some sense of forecasting as they start to emerge, but there is really no way to know.
This is part of a series of weekly virtual events designed to provide up-to-date information and opportunities to connect and discuss throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The next virtual roundtable focused on the global trade sector of our industry will be held next Wednesday, April 8. Keep checking pma.com for the most current industry resources and information about the pandemic.
Fruit and Vegetable Letter to USDA on Market Stabilization Program
PMA joined 75 other produce organizations to encourage USDA to quickly act on five recommendations to stabilize the industry through the recently-passed Congressional stimulus plan.
Covid 3 Cares Summary
The U.S. CARES legislation, also know as COVID-19 phase 3, is the third stimulus package to provide economic assistance to businesses impacted by the coronavirus. Here is a summary of CARES.
CARES Act with Payment Protection Program
Included within the CARES package are forgivable small business loans. Here are the key components of the Payment Protection Program.
Overall Summary of the three COVID stimulus bills
Three bills have passed the U.S. Congress that offer economic stimulus to address COVID-19 financial hardships. Here is a detailed summary of all three bills.
International Members of Fresh Fruit, Vegetable and Floral Supply Chain Share COVID-19 Experiences
What can the U.S. learn from the ongoing situation across the globe? This was a significant theme from the Produce Marketing Association’s first ever virtual town hall.
Here are the key takeaways.
President Trump Signs $2T Stimulus Package
On Friday, March 27, President Trump signed the $2 trillion stimulus aimed at alleviating the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the American public and U.S. economy.
Here are a few key takeaways from the stimulus package:
- This is the third stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by the President to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. It is also the largest stimulus in history.
- The stimulus includes federal guaranteed loans for small businesses - including those in fresh produce and floral - that would be forgiven if the employer continued to pay workers for the duration of the crisis.
- The stimulus designates $9.5 billion to provide direct aid to agricultural producers affected by the impacts of the pandemic
- The bill also grants the USDA with $24billion including funds to ensure staffing for food safety inspections.
- The stimulus increases the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $33 million and makes it easier for children, elderly and adults with disabilities to access their food related benefits.
PMA will work to encourage the Administration and other groups to ensure fresh produce and floral challenges related to COVID-19 are addressed in the implementation stage of the stimulus package.
HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Information for Employers
HR 6201 is a bill introduced by Rep Nita Lowey, D-NY, that responds to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The bill specifically makes provisions for paid sick leave, tax credits, unemployment benefits and other items.
This fact sheet includes summaries and use for the items related to employers.
Summary of Small Business Loan Programs resulting form COVID-19 Pandemic
The recent federal stimulus packages passed by the U.S. Congress includes significant funding for small businesses (including fresh produce and floral operations) dealing with the financial impacts of COVID-19.
In particular, the new SBA loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, is intended to keep workers on small business payrolls through offering forgivable loans.
Here are the full descriptions of the loan and other programs included in the stimulus packages.
H-2A Department of State Update
The U.S. Department of State has eased worker visa (H-2A) processing requirements, resulting in quicker availability of farm labor into the U.S.
This FAQ has the full details.
Fresh Produce and Floral Industry Members React to COVID-19 Situation in PMA Virtual Town Hall
Participants from the European Union, China, Singapore, Mexico, Colombia and Peru shared their experiences throughout this pandemic. Here are the top-level experiences from each area:
EU: The EU is being directed to feed as many people as possible. This is causing a spike in demand for produce at ports, with floral and foodservice sectors seeing diminished demand. Communication will be key to anticipate demand with consumers and growers while avoiding bottlenecks at the ports.
- China: During the shut-down there was a complete decline in demand, with everything halted across the supply chain (retail, foodservice, growers, packaging, transportation, etc.). Now 80 to 90% of the supply chain is back to normal, with a quick bounce back. The larger challenge now is global supply.
- Singapore: Singapore’s main challenges are supply chain issues. With major suppliers like Australia and partnering countries like Thailand and Indonesia shutting down, they will have to rely largely on their local supply. It is difficult to get air freight or to know which producing countries have capacity. Communication is critical, with blockchain lending transparency as to what is in the market.
- Mexico: Mexico is quite a bit behind other countries in terms of response. Retailers are seeing a huge influx in demand due to emergency shopping. The product is currently in the field, with no threat to the product as the cases are largely in urban areas. Growers are looking at selling in dollars rather than pesos to promote international selling, particularly as imports and consumption will be down for the foreseeable future.
- Colombia and Peru: In Colombia and Peru, the concerns are around restrictions on the number of people within a family that can work and how this will impact packing houses and other parts of the production supply chain.
For PMA members only: Read the full recap and watch the general session video
Worker and Family Assistance Programs in CARES Act Passed by the U.S. Senate
The CARES Act provides significant funding related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Key provisions related to workers and farmers in the CARES Act.
As a result of member input, PMA has recently joined other associations to contact congressional and administration authorities with requests to support industry issues:
Facing disruptions across the supply chain, our members have told us they need help as markets shift and preferences change in response to this global crisis.
We are tracking the impact on trade and labor, namely the potential for border closures, the impact on seasonal worker availability, and cross-border trucking, and communicating this globally.
To help you and your employees prove that they are vital and are allowed to travel within the United States, despite other travel bans, PMA is providing you with:
These documents are available in Spanish/Estos documentos están disponibles en español:
Check back regularly for more information.