USDA to provide $1B to support rural businesses pay off federal loans

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture vows to give up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to support rural businesses and farmers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The money will come out of funding received by the agency through the initial $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. The new program implemented to provide loans to rural businesses will be expanded within the already existing Business and Industry program, but will include a higher loan guarantee level and lessen loopholes for collateral.

“Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural businesses and agricultural producers and being a strong supporter of all aspects of the rural economy,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press release. “Ensuring more rural agricultural producers are able to gain access to much-needed capital in these unprecedented times is a cornerstone of that commitment.”

The loans must be used to cover working capital lost due to the pandemic’s impact. They can only be used to support rural businesses, including farmers, that were operating on Feb. 15.

The agency plans to consider applications in the order which they’re received, but it can assign priority points if needed.

Interested applicants can apply between Friday and June 22. The program funding is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2021.

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