John Joyce Glenn Thompson

John Joyce, left, and Glenn "G.T." Thompson

Bipartisan legislation, introduced by four congressmen, including Republican U.S. Reps. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson and John Joyce, would expand the eligibility for farmers and ranchers to participate in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’s Paycheck Protection Program.

The Paycheck Protection for Producers Act, which was also supported by Democratic U.S. Reps. Ron Kind (Wisconsin) and Anthony Brindisi (New York), would allow applicants to use their 2019 gross income, up to $100,000, rather than net income, when applying for loans from the PPP that is designed to help small businesses keep employees on payrolls during the COVID-19 pandemic economic slowdown.

Thompson, a House Agriculture Committee member, said the bill developed in response to concerns raised by dairy farmers.

“The majority of our small businesses really benefited greatly from the Paycheck Protection Program, but there was a technical issue that was impacting many of our small dairy farms,” said Thompson, who represents the 15th Congressional District. 

“They found themselves not eligible to be able to participate at a time that it was critical that they be able to utilize this resource. It was a result of an issue on how the economics of dairy works, especially the small-sized dairy farms. Many of these individuals found themselves in a net negative revenue because of how basically milk taxes work and the dairy industry as a whole.”

In a released statement, Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, added: “While the Paycheck Protection Program is providing vital assistance to farmers and ranchers who were able to receive loans, many self-employed farmers have been unable to participate, putting the future of their family farms at risk.”

Joyce, from the 13th Congressional District, called the proposal “a lifeline.”

“There’s no question in my mind about that,” Joyce said.

Joyce has also introduced the Fixing America’s Regulatory Mess To Facilitate Agricultural Byproducts and Livestock Expedited Delivery Act. FARM to TABLE would ensure that hours-of-service rules for transporters are consistent year-round and across state lines.

“It strengthens our nation’s food supply,” Joyce said. “And it reduces the significant regulatory burdens that are on the food suppliers, the producers, and the transporters, the people who bring it to us, that provide us with this great nutritious food. They bring the farm to our tables.”

National Grain and Feed Association and American Trucking Associations’ Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference issued a joint statement that said the act “would alleviate agricultural transportation constraints, help U.S. agriculture remain competitive in domestic and global markets, and enable the U.S. agriculture industry to continue to contribute positively to global food security and the nation’s economic growth.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

Recommended for you