Businesses to get help soon, farmers will have to wait

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Rep. John Garamendi is confident small businesses will get some—more—much needed economic relief. While the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an economic stimulus program that was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, funds have been exhausted, Garamendi expects another $300 billion to be approved by Congress this week. However, he admits there are still some hurdles to overcome. “We, Democrats, want cites and counties, fire and police departments, and school districts to be included in the next round of funding,” he said. As of Sunday night, the Democrats hopes seemed to be forlorn. On CNN Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described the outlines of an the agreement that would include $300 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for testing—money for cities and counties will come at “a later date,” President Trump said. That may be too late for local governments. “By May, counties in my district will be out of money,” Garamendi said. Gramendi represents the third Congressional District, which includes Solano and Yolo county. This district is significantly rural and these farmers seem to be significantly forgotten in the current emergency stimulus packages, Garamendi added. “The Department of Agriculture received more than $9 billion in funding through the CARES Act, and it is just sitting on it,” he said.  On March 27, Department of Agriculture Secretary Sony Perdue said. “We will deliver relief assistance to farmers as quickly as possible.” On April 7, Garamendi sent a letter to Secretary Perdue asking him to hurry up with the aid:  “We respectfully request that you provide direct support to specialty crop producers…who are facing substantial financial challenges.” The letter was a follow up to one he sent on April 2. On Friday, April 17, President Trump announced a $19 billion aid program for farmers, to be administered by the Department of Agriculture, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Garamendi may be sending another letter.  An Express request to the Department of Agriculture to clarify specifically what happened to the initial CARES funding was returned with the following comment: “USDA is working as quickly as possible to implement CFAP,” a USDA spokesperson replied.]]>

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