There is another meaty round of news and notes to pass along this week and, once again, the headline items are related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Before we get to those, I want to wish people a good Mother’s Day and best of luck in the fishing opener. Enjoy yourself and be safe under these unusual circumstances.
Here is the latest from the state:
Officials from Minnesota Management and Budget on Tuesday released an interim budget projection showing the state faces a nearly $2.43 billion deficit for the remainder of the current biennium, which ends June 30, 2021. It’s the first time the number is in the red since the Great Recession.
The new number represents a nearly $4 billon change from what was projected just a couple of months ago. The full forecast released in February projected a $1.5 billion budget surplus. Because the next forecast is not scheduled until November, this projection has limited updated estimates of expected revenues and expenses. It also reflects appropriations enacted this session.
This is all to say the state is suffering financial difficulties right along with families and businesses throughout Minnesota. When businesses are not taking in earnings and people are seeing their income reduced or eliminated, it translates to a reduction in state revenue. That is a major reason the governor should start working with the legislature to help create a path forward to safely re-open our economy and make tough decisions regarding state spending given the realities we face.
Disaster loans available for ag workers
Agricultural workers are urged to consider expanded U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans that are now available to help them mitigate damages resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SBA announced this week that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s EIDL and EIDL Advance programs. The SBA’s EIDL portal is open as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation provided additional funding for farmers and ranchers and certain other agricultural businesses affected by COVID-19.
The SBA indicates it will begin accepting new EIDL applications on a limited basis only, in order to provide unprecedented relief to U.S. agricultural businesses. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL loan application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will move forward and process these applications without the need for re-applying. All other EIDL loan applications that were submitted before the portal stopped accepting new applications on April 15 will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis.
More information is available at this link.
Ag webinar re: meat and poultry processing markets
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is hosting a one-hour webinar 9 a.m. Friday to answer questions about expanding local meat and poultry processing markets in Minnesota and discuss how we can adapt Minnesota's meat and poultry supply chain in response to the current pandemic. Topics of discussion will include the MDA’s inspection requirements, grant opportunities, and marketing assistance programs. Here is more.
On Tuesday, the governor announced Executive Order 20-51, which allows hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and clinics – whether veterinary, medical, or dental – to resume many currently delayed procedures. These expanded services may occur once facilities have developed criteria for determining which procedures should proceed during the COVID-19 pandemic and have provided a plan to maintain a safe environment for facility staff, patients, and visitors.
Have a good weekend and, as always, let me know how I can help. Look for more news from the House as we move closer to the May 18 date for adjournment.