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Changes made to Payroll Protection Program should include more farmers

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 7:20 AM CST
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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - Some changes being made to the Payroll Protection Program should mean more farmers will be eligible for payments under the program. According to reports from DTN, the first round of aid called for payments to be based on farmers net income—that’s income after deductions and expenses. Because of deduction expenses that number is usually very low or even negative. But for payments in 2021 farmers can use their gross income to apply for PPP money. Also that money won’t be taxed as income and it won’t affect any deductions since Congress changed that provision this past December. Farmers and other small businesses can apply for that aid through their regular lenders or the Farm Credit System. Congress has authorized $284 billion for this new round of the Payroll Protection Program.

By the middle of next week Tom Vilsack should once again be the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The U.S. Senate, which is taking this week off, will be back in session on Monday and has scheduled a vote on Vilsack’s nomination for next Tuesday. It’s expected to be a slam dunk for his approval as he got unanimous support from the Senate Agriculture Committee during his confirmation hearing a couple of weeks ago. A coalition of over 130 agriculture groups has sent a letter to the Senate urging a vote in favor of Vilsack.

Michigan Senator, Debbie Stabenow, the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has laid out the agenda for her committee during this session of Congress. She says her top priority is to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic by addressing the hunger issue and repairing what she calls ‘the broken food supply chain.” She said her committee will also address climate change, fight childhood hunger, create jobs and improve the quality of life in rural America and lay the groundwork for the next bipartisan Farm Bill which comes due in 2023.

Corn and soybean prices are up and it’s not taking long for that extra money to burn holes in farmers’ pockets. New numbers from the Equipment Manufacturers’ Association show sales of new tractors in January were up 25% from a year ago. 4 wheel drive tractors showed the biggest jump of 34%. Combine sales were also up over 25% from last year.

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