CA Aquaculture – COVID-19 response updates for producers

Mar 25, 2020 – (From a recent dispatch by the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association – the following has information on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, applicable to aquaculture producers nationwide, including California.)

CORONA Response bills – what do they mean for aquaculture businesses?
There was an $8.3B supplemental appropriation (March 6) and a Families First Response Act (March 18) – and then the CARES bill which has passed the senate and now heads to the house for consideration.

CARES is a $2 trillion package that has huge injections of small business lending, unemployment insurance, tax relief and tons of other moving parts for other sectors of the economy.  In the bill are $300M for fisheries disaster relief (including aquaculture) as well as $9.5B for the Secretary of Agriculture to use to help farms that have lost markets due to restaurant closures.

It also includes expanded availability of small business loans.  Aquaculture firms may qualify for loans for payroll, group health, salary and commissions, interest on mortgages, rent, utilities and interest on debt. Collateral and personal guarantee obligations are waived.

Employers can receive loan forgiveness for the first 8 weeks of payroll costs (and certain other expenses) after the origination date of the loan (up to $100K).  The program incentivizes the rehiring of workers laid off due to COVID.  There is also an employer tax credit for eligible employers that would credit up to 50% of wages (up to $10K per employee per quarter) and a provision that allows for immediate write-offs for qualifying property improvements.

The bill contains huge boosts to unemployment insurance, hospitals, big businesses and just about everyone else, and it will take some time to pass and get signed into law so dissecting it properly will allow provision of some real guidance on  issues like where to apply, and what will be needed to qualify.

More updates will be provided as they become available.