COVID-19 Updates From Headquarters
California Legislature Postpones Return Date
On Friday, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced that the state Legislature will not return to session until May 4.
When the legislature voted last month to adjourn early for the Easter recess in recognition of the threat posed by COVID-19, legislators expected to return to Sacramento next Monday, April 13. Unfortunately, the continued COVID-19 crisis has necessitated further delay.
With lawmakers’ extended absence from Sacramento, it is unclear what legislators will be able to accomplish this session. Governor Newsom has acknowledged that the state’s budget—initially outlined on January 10—will have to be significantly slimmed down in response to the stalled economy, and bills with fiscal impacts will likely receive more scrutiny when the legislature returns.
While some legislative deadlines are moveable, at least two are constitutionally mandated: passing a state budget by June 15 and passing bills by the end of August. Given the significant delays in the legislature thus far, there is every indication that many bills introduced early in the session will fall by the wayside as the Legislature focuses on priority issues such as COVID-19 relief, homelessness and wildlfires.
CCA will keep you up to date on the latest news regarding the California legislature.
First-come, First-served Small Business Loans Available Now
On Thursday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued its The Interim Final Rule (IFR) announcing additional guidelines and requirements for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The temporary expansion of this loan program, authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, makes up a portion of the $376 billion in relief the Act will provide for workers and small businesses in America.
The following are key highlights from the IFR for ranchers and beef producers:
- Agricultural producers are eligible for PPP. However, all small businesses are subject to SBA’s affiliation rules (for example, “affiliation” exists when one business controls or has the power to control another. Additional information on SBA affiliation rules can be found here).
- The determining factor of eligibility appears to be size, and any small business with 500 employees or fewer is eligible to participate.
- Loans of up to $10 million will be made available to cover 2.5 times the average monthly cost of payroll, which is measured by payroll costs of the 12 months preceding the loan origination date, plus an additional 25% for non-payroll costs. At least 75% of the loan must be used for payroll costs.
- One potentially limiting factor to note: payroll expenses cannot include salaries for foreign workers or independent contractors (independent contractors are eligible to apply for PPP individually).
- PPP is retroactive to February 15, 2020 and loans will be available through June 30. PPP funds used during this eight-week period can be 100% forgiven, as long as this funding is used on approved expenses and employees aren’t terminated and their wages aren’t reduced. Any loan proceeds in excess of this amount are subject to repayment rate of 1%. Employers will need to keep careful documentation of these expenses in order to apply for loan forgiveness.
- While the program is open until June 30, loans will be available on a first come, first served basis. Individuals who are interested in applying for PPP should contact their lenders ASAP.
To download the Paycheck Protection Program Borrower Application Form, click here. To find an eligible lender near you, click here.
Additionally, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced that “the state is allocating $50 million to the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank for loan guarantees to small businesses to help eliminate barriers to capital for individuals who do not qualify for federal funds, including low wealth and undocumented immigrant communities. The state is also allowing small businesses to defer payment of sales and use taxes of up to $50,000, for up to 12 months.”
To read the Governor’s full announcement, click here.
For further information on the Paycheck Protection Program for agricultural producers, see full details on the CCA COVID-19 webpage here.
CCA Working to Obtain Financial Relief for Producers
CCA continues to work hard to ensure that all producer losses directly associated with COVID-19 are addressed by Congress. Last week, a congressional letter signed by over 145 lawmakers was sent to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. The letter requested “swift assistance for cattle producers with the resources provided in the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to facilitate the stabilization of farm and ranch income to producers who are facing market volatility in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout.” To read the full letter, click here.
Additionally, prior to President Trump signing an updated version of the CARES Act in late March, NCBA and state affiliates including CCA had already provided guidance to USDA about how best to utilize the $9.5 billion for producer support appropriated to the agency under the Act.
Specifically, NCBA and CCA formally requested that USDA give particular consideration to impacted cattle producers, who are not eligible for traditional USDA and Small Business Administration safety net programs available to other commodity producers. Livestock groups are also asking that support payments be directed at producers with demonstrated loss and financial need attributable to the COVID-19 crisis (as opposed to a blanket payment equally apportioned among all producers).
To read the key provisions in the CARES Act for cattle producers, click here.
CCA will continue to work on getting relief for all ranchers financially impacted by COVID-19 and will provide updates on the status of relief measures as available.
USDA Releases Statement on Confirmation of COVID-19 in Tiger in New York
On Sunday the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed a tiger at a zoo in New York has been infected with COVID-19.
“Samples from this tiger were taken and tested after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed symptoms of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus,” according to USDA’s release. “Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.”
At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that people can get the COVID-19 infection from any animals, including pets or livestock.
Should you become sick from coronavirus, USDA directs you to avoid contact with pets and other animals.
“Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets.”
For more information on how to keep people and animals safe, click here.
Packing Plants and Inspections to Continue During Outbreak
Many have questioned if packing plants will close or be required to reduce operations in light of the coronavirus. However, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is confirming plants will remain open with precautions.
In an extensive COVID-19 FAQ document, NCBA explains, “Packing plants are working to ensure worker health and safety so that employees can continue to work, and plants can continue to operate. They are working on contingency plans in the event employees become ill. USDA remains committed to keeping the food supply chain safely operating. Inspectors and graders will continue to be in plants doing their job. In the event of sick or exposed employees the USDA has contingency plans in place to keep inspections going.”
Additionally, USDA ensures that quality grading and inspection services will continue. On the Frequently Asked Questions page of USDA’s coronavirus webpage, the Department states the following:
“[USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)] continues to provide critical inspections and grading services. AMS is ensuring the health and safety of USDA employees while still providing the timely delivery of the services to maintain the movement of America’s food supply from farms to forks. If needed, AMS is prepared to remedy any possible disruptions in services.”
To learn more about USDA’s plans to ensure food safety during the pandemic, click here.