Trade coalition asks SBA to include hemp farmers in coronavirus stimulus loan package

A coalition of hemp trade associations wants assurance that farmers – and particularly hemp farmers – will be eligible for key assistance programs under to help with business disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Eight hemp organizations sent a joint letter to Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza on behalf of the 17,000 licensed hemp farmers nationwide who grew hemp in 2019.

The organizations include:

  • Vote Hemp.
  • U.S. Hemp Roundtable.
  • U.S. Hemp Growers Association.
  • National Industrial Hemp Council.
  • Hemp Industries Association.
  • Midwest Hemp Council.
  • Hemp Feed Coalition.

Earlier this month, 86 members of Congress directed the SBA administrator to ensure that farmers would be eligible for small business loan programs, particularly the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program.

The agency originally indicated that farmers could not apply for the stimulus money allocated to small businesses under the CARES ACT, against the apparent intent of Congress. The SBA has not made any public updates to its eligibility criteria.

While there were also funds allocated to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is still little direction about when or how the funding may reach farmers and whether hemp farmers will be eligible, making it even more critical for hemp producers to access small-business relief programs, the coalition said in a statement Tuesday.

“We are concerned about the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus on farmers and wanted to make sure that hemp producers were not left behind at this critical moment” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp.

“We urge the SBA and Congress to provide the same relief to hemp farmers that is being offered to
other businesses.”