What Ag Retailers Need To Know About CARES, SBA, Paid Leave

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Credit: NIAID-RML ( NIAID-RML )

The Ag Retailers Association organized a webinar for its members featuring two attorneys from Faegre Drinker detailing resources available to ag retail businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Frank Swain and Ryan Funk gave insights to how retailers can use provisions of the CARES act and Small Business Administration programs.  

Swain shared there are two programs that might be of interest to retailers relating to problems caused by COVID-19: 

  1. Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program: Swain says this is direct from the Small Business Administration, and it’s almost identical to the weather related disaster loans. It offers an interest rate of 3.75%, which can be repaid in 15 or 30 years. 
  2. CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program: Swain explains that retailers who are interested in this would apply direct through their lender. He says, “It’s more like a grant program than a loan program.” The loan amount will be forgiven for three qualifying expenses: 
  • Payroll
  • Real estate, mortgage interest on business property
  • Utility charges

The amount of the loan is determined by 2.5x of your average monthly payroll. 

Today, is the first day banks can accept application for PPP. Swain’s top advice concerning this program is for interested businesses to act now, so that their application is on the top of the pile that their lender will be receiving. 

Funk shares details of the paid leave provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). His top takeaway is that there are nuances continuing to be revealed every day as the IRS and Department of Labor are publishing new guidance. 

The FFCRA applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.

He shares, in general, employees can get two weeks of paid leave and an additional 10 weeks, if one of the five reasons apply:

  1. If the employee can’t work because the government has that employee under quarantine or isolation order. (It appears state mandates are not included because if a business is non-essential, then that’s not included here)
  2. If the employee has been advised by a health care provider they need to self-quarantine. 
  3. If the employee is experiencing symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. 
  4. If the employee is caring for an individual under quarantine or isolation order. 
  5. If the employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

More resources are available here from Faegre Drinker.

ARA members can access the webinar here.