Finkenauer and Bishop Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Farmers Through Coronavirus Pandemic
Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) and Congressman Dan Bishop (R-NC) on Thursday introduced the bipartisan Expanding Assistance to Farmers Act of 2020.
The bill ensures farmers and agricultural producers can use their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to cover rental expenses related to equipment, land, and buildings. PPP is the forgivable federal loan program created earlier this year to aid small business affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Our family farmers and producers are small businesses, too, and there's no reason they should be concerned about whether they can use their small business aid to cover some of their basic business expenses," Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer said. "Whether they're located on Main Street or down a dirt road, we must stand up for our small businesses and help them through this historic crisis."
"The Expanding Assistance to Farmers Act of 2020 is bipartisan, commonsense legislation that ensures fairness in one of our most important coronavirus-relief programs," Finkenauer said. "I'm grateful to Congressman Dan Bishop (R-NC) for working with me on this legislation, and I urge my colleagues to move quickly to pass it into law. Our farm families need certainty and they simply cannot afford to wait."
"Farmers across North Carolina have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic yet continue to provide food for our communities. By expanding the use of PPP loans, farmers can use the funds for what they need to continue day-to-day operations that all Americans rely on," Congressman Dan Bishop (R-NC) said.
The Expanding Assistance to Farmers Act of 2020 is endorsed by the Iowa Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"The Paycheck Protection Program is providing vital assistance to farmers and ranchers who were able to receive loans," said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "While this program has been helpful, additional changes can make it even more effective for farmers and ranchers to participate by extending loan forgiveness for rental expenses on agriculture equipment, land and buildings. Farm Bureau commends Congressman Dan Bishop and Congresswoman Finkenauer for providing much-needed assistance to agricultural producers."
The Expanding Assistance to Farmers Act of 2020 ensures that PPP rules are applied uniformly to all small businesses, and clarifies that agricultural producers may use forgivable PPP funds for rental payments on land, buildings and equipment essential to their businesses including:
hay rakes and wagons,
Congresswoman Finkenauer's Ongoing Recovery Efforts:
On July 2, Finkenauer introduced the Relief for Rural Development Borrowers Act to assist rural businesses, hospitals and schools through the Coronavirus pandemic by covering six months of payments on certain federal loans.
On June 25, Finkenauer called on Frontier Airlines to provide refunds for travelers impacted by Coronavirus-related flight cancellations after receiving numerous complaints about Frontier's handling of refunds.
On June 8, Finkenauer continued bipartisan efforts to defend the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), sending a letter to President Donald Trump demanding that his administration uphold the integrity of federal fuel standards amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 2, Finkenauer announced $24.5 million in federal grants for Northeastern Iowa airports, funding authorized by the CARES Act which Finkenauer helped pass into law in March.
On May 28, Finkenauer sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday asking the department to waive all fees associated with replacement of Economic Impact Payment debit cards.
On May 28, Finkenauer voted to help pass a bill providing for flexibility for businesses receiving loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.
On May 27, Finkenauer helped introduce legislation providing new loans for teams to cover costs and hang on until next season. The legislation will help the Cedar Rapids Kernels and other minor league clubs keep up with lease and bond payments and pay employees even if stadiums go dark this year.
On May 27, Finkenauer introduced the Child Care is Essential Act to improve childcare options for Iowans and ensure providers have the resources to weather the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
On May 22, Finkenauer introduced the Protecting Paychecks and Employees (PPE) Act, which would allow small businesses to use funds from Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans on personal protective equipment for their employees.
On May 20, Finkenauer led a Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship (RATE) subcommittee virtual forum, bringing together Iowa leaders and experts to discuss the economic challenges facing rural communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 19, Finkenauer joined Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03), and Rep. Dave Loebsack (IA-02) in writing to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to express concerns over the capability and expansion plans of the Test Iowa coronavirus (COVID-19) testing program.
On May 12, Finkenauer introduced the Tenant Protection Notification Act of 2020 to protect renters, including mobile and manufactured home park residents, from illegal evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 8, Finkenauer pledged to take additional legislative steps to ensure the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) better serves truly small businesses in places like Waterloo -- not big corporations and national chains.
On May 8, Finkenauer announced nearly $1 million in additional grants for COVID-19 testing at three community health centers in the First District.
On May 6, Finkenauer announced $8.1 million in grants for transit services in the City of Cedar Rapids as part of the CARES Act Coronavirus relief package.
On May 1, Finkenauer, U.S. Reps. Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for the president to partner in safely reopening meat processing plants in Iowa by utilizing the Defense Production Act (DPA) to produce the needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for workers, just as he has done to order the opening of the plants.
On April 29, Finkenauer met, via video conference, with letters carriers who serve Iowa's First Congressional District. Finkenauer provided an update on potential aid amid the COVID-19 crisis, expressed her commitment to ensuring letter carriers have the resources they need to continue to serve during the crisis, and heard about potential areas where the federal government could assist employees.
On April 23, Finkenauer voted to help pass additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, hospitals and healthcare providers, and increased funding for COVID-19 testing.
On April 21, Finkenauer helped introduce the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act to increase safety standards for essential workers and at-risk employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was introduced amid concerns over rising COVID-19 infections and reports of inadequate protections for employees at some Iowa meat processing plants.
On April 20, Finkenauer sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons urging the FTC to delay no further in investigating ongoing concerns about out-of-state investors and corporations buying mobile and manufactured home communities in Iowa and taking advantage of their residents with unfair business practices. This issue has been a top concern in Iowa for months, and become more pressing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 17, Finkenauer sent letters to three federal agencies asking for enforceable safety standards, COVID-19 testing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees at meat processing plants in Iowa. Finkenauer sent oversight letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Labor (DOL), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to highlight the urgency of the situation facing hard-working Iowans at these plants, and request immediate assistance. USDA and the CDC later took steps complying with Finkenauer's request.
On April 15, Finkenauer helped lead more than 40 Representatives and Senators in writing a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli expressing concern that regulations for visa programs are standing in the way of the strongest possible medical response to COVID-19.
On April 13, Finkenauer led a bipartisan letter addressed to Jovita Carranza, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Association, expressing concern that there is no longer a full-time Director for the Office of Rural Affairs and urging the SBA to provide the Office of Rural Affairs with the necessary staff and resources to ensure that rural small businesses are able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 9, Finkenauer held telephone-town hall to discuss mental health impacts and resources around coronavirus.
On April 9, Finkenauer sent a letter to HHS Secretary Azar asking for information about how the $100 billion in the CARES Act for hospitals and health care providers will distributed, including information on Iowa's share of the funding.
On April 2, Finkenuer sent letters to 11 federal agencies seeking updates on aid programs authorized by recent legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis.
On March 27, Finkenauer sent a letter to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds urging her to issue a statewide "stay-at-home' order.
On March 27, Finkenauer voted for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) an emergency aid package to help hospitals, frontline workers, and working families across Iowa and the country.
On March 26, held a telephone town hall for constituents in the First Congressional District. Business and workforce leaders from around the district answered questions about personal financial impacts of coronavirus response.
On March 25, Finkenauer released her priorities she pushed to have included in the third coronavirus response supplemental - Preparing Iowa Communities & Protecting our Families.
On March 19, Finkenauer held a telephone town hall for constituents in the First Congressional District. Health officials from Black Hawk and Linn counties participated and answered questions, as well as the liaison for Dubuque City and County Emergency Health Response Team.
Finkenauer also sent a letter to federal health officials on March 19, urging them to ensure Iowa medical professionals have the necessary protective equipment to treat patients.
Finkenauer joined a call for President Trump to use his authority under the Defense Production Act of 1950 to increase production of necessary medical supplies. On March 18, President Trump announced he would use the authority to avoid supply shortages.
On March 17, Finkenauer reached out to community leaders in Iowa asking for their concerns, priorities and more info on how the outbreak is affected local economies.
On March 15, Finkenauer sent a letter to Governor Kim Reynolds encouraging the state to create a more centralized location for key information, including consideration of school closures.
Finkenauer voted to pass an emergency package to help Iowa families and health professionals impacted by coronavirus on March 14.
Taking early action, Finkenauer voted to approve a critical coronavirus funding package to help expand testing and research. Finkenauer also sent an oversight letter to the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar seeking specific answers on whether local health agencies and hospitals have the tools they need.
On March 13, Finkenauer helped host a Small Business Committee hearing on Coronavirus and asked a witness about health and safety, and financial security for hard-working Iowans impacted by coronavirus.
Finkenauer followed up that hearing with an oversight letter asking the Small Business Administration (SBA) about their progress on providing information on small business assistance to Iowans along with what methods they will be doing outreach to Iowa businesses. Later that day, the SBA posted this information webpage.
Finkenauer also published a coronavirus informational page to help Iowans access important information regarding the global pandemic. The page is available at https://finkenauer.house.gov/coronavirus-information
Finkenauer's office has been in contact with area hospitals, business organizations, schools and colleges with respect to the virus to understand any ongoing concerns. Finkenauer has also spoken with Governor Kim Reynolds for an update on Iowa's response to coronavirus.