SBA approves more farm credits as a lender for Paycheck Protection Program
Federal agency also provides new guidance for farmers who are self-employed on eligibility for CARES Act program.
FARGO, N.D. — Howard Olson, senior vice president of government and public affairs for AgCountry Farm Credit Services, based in Fargo, says his company on Tuesday, April 14, was approved by the Small Business Administration as an approved lender for its Paycheck Protection Program.
That makes AgCountry — the dominant lender for farmers agribusinesses in the region — eligible for accepting applications for the “PPP,” which is part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
The SBA also issued new guidance for self-employed people on April 14, offering clarification for farmers who are self-employed. They can be eligible by using their net earnings, based on Schedule C of their federal tax forms. “We are also getting clarification and confirmation that they also mean ‘Schedule F,’ for farmers,” Olson said.
Prior to their approval, AgCountry had been referring farmers to banks and credit unions who were already SBA approved lenders “just so they could get an application submitted,” Olson said, noting that news reports indicate there is a limited amount of money in the program and that it could run out as early as April 18.
“We want to make sure farmers get an application submitted,” Olson said. “If they haven’t already, they should.” He said people can link to an SBA application form through the agcountry.com website.
Through customers, Olson has confirmed what Agweek earlier reported, which is that some lending institutions have been overwhelmed with applicants and have been dealing first with their own existing customers before extending SBA application service to new customers, including AgCountry farm borrowers.
Olson noted that an unofficial count within the Farm Credit System shows that about 20 associations out of 68 had been approved as of April 14, including AgCountry.
Similarly, Aaron Vetter, president and chief executive officer of Mandan Farm Credit Services at Mandan, N.D., said his company finally announced on April 14 that they were able to process the SBA applications. “We did a couple of applications before for test purposes,” he said. “It was a fairly tedious process to get to be an SBA approved lender.” He said SBA workers were working hard but overloaded.
Gordon Hanson, president and CEO of Farm Credit Service of North Dakota in Minot, N.D., similarly said his organization has been working on processes last week and started processing applications on Monday, April 13.