Advocacy

Co-ops eligible for COVID-19 relief passed by House Committees

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This week House committees advanced legislation to provide further economic relief from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These bills are part of a $1.9 trillion budget agreement that was passed earlier in the month and is in line with the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan.

House committees last week advanced legislation to provide further economic relief from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These bills are part of a $1.9 trillion budget agreement that was passed earlier in the month and is in line with the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan. Bills must still advance through the full House of Representatives as well as Senate Committees and the full Senate before being sent to President Biden’s desk for signature.

In response to these bills passing committee, Doug O‚ÄôBrien, president and CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International said, ‚ÄúWe are encouraged to see policymakers acknowledge the contributions of cooperatives to the U.S. economy by ensuring these businesses can equitably participate in disaster relief. We do think there are opportunities to improve the legislation to ensure cooperatives can play an even greater role in building back the economy. NCBA CLUSA looks forward to working with policymakers to implement solutions that provide relief to cooperative member-owners and the communities they serve.‚ÄĚ
Through advocacy from the co-op community, cooperatives continue to be eligible for federal disaster programs.
The House Committee on Small Business passed further relief for America’s small businesses. Some of the highlights to this bill include the following.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

The bill provides an additional $7.25 billion for Paycheck Protection with continued eligibility for cooperatives. The bill also expands the PPP to include additional 501(c) organizations for second draws.

TARGETED EIDL ADVANCE

The bill provides an additional $15 billion for Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance (grants) with continued eligibility for cooperatives.
The bill directs SBA to ensure remaining eligible businesses can access the $10,000 grant within 28 days of the bill becomes law, then make remaining funds available for supplementary grants to ‚Äėseverely impacted‚Äô businesses of ten or fewer employees that demonstrate at least 50 percent revenue loss and are located in a low-income census tract.

RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND

The bill provides $25 billion for a new program at SBA to provide assistance to restaurants and other food and drinking establishments
  • Grants are available for up to $10 million per entity; with a limitation $5 million per physical location, limited to 20 locations
  • Grants are calculated by subtracting 2020 revenue from 2019 revenue. For the first 21 days, restaurants owned and controlled by women, veterans, or socially disadvantaged groups receive priority
The bill also provides support for shuttered venues operators and a community navigators pilot program to provide technical assistance to small businesses navigating COVID-19 federal relief programs. The full summary of the Small Business Committee is available here.
The Agriculture Committee passed a COVID relief bill providing assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

PROVISIONS RELATED TO COOPERATIVES AND RURAL COMMUNITIES IN THIS BILL INCLUDE:

$1 billion for assistance and support to socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and groups, including for
  • Cooperative development training and support, outreach, mediation, financial training, and other technical assistance;
  • Improving land access, including issues related to heirs‚Äô property;
  • Supporting the development of agricultural credit institutions that are designed to serve socially disadvantaged groups;
  • Supporting the activities of one or more equity commissions;
  • Establishing pilot projects to provide technical and financial assistance to socially disadvantaged groups including projects that focus on land acquisition, financial planning, technical assistance and credit;
  • Investing in supplemental research, education, extension, and scholarships to provide internships and pathways to federal employment
  • Farm loan assistance for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers

More than $1 billion for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and additional assistance for SNAP online purchasing and technology improvements.

Lastly, the House Committee on Financial Services passed their portion of COVID-19 relief as well. Provisions related to cooperatives in this bill include rental and homeownership assistance and small business support. Related to small business, the bill provides $10 billion to reauthorize the State Small Business Credit Initiative. According to the committee report, SSBCI will support up to $100 billion in small business financing through state, territorial and tribal government programs, including $500 million to provide technical assistance to small businesses that need legal, accounting, financial and other kinds of advice in applying for small business support programs, which includes opportunities for cooperatives. The bill also includes specific set-asides for businesses owned- and controlled by socially disadvantaged groups and to encourage Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) to participate in the program, which have a strong history of supporting cooperatives. The committee report is available here.

NCBA CLUSA continues to advocate for co-ops as this process continues, including ensuring co-ops are eligible for programs responding to the crisis, investing in cooperative development, and implementing programs to promote cooperatives as a rebuilding tool for start-ups, existing small businesses, and as a succession strategy for retiring owners.

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