SALT LAKE CITY — Rural communities, family farms and small businesses could see some financial relief from the COVID-19 outbreak under bipartisan legislation Sen. Mitt Romney introduced Thursday.
The Rural Equal Aid Act would expand assistance Congress previously provided for certain Small Business Administration loans to Rural Development program loans in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Small businesses and community organizations are vital to the health and livelihoods of Utah’s rural communities, and they have faced great hardship over the last several months,” Romney said in a statement. “Our legislation will help them receive the support they need to keep their doors open and get through this pandemic.”
In addition to Romney, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, are sponsoring the bill.
The coronavirus relief package requires the SBA to pay the principal, interest and any associated fees owed on covered loans for a six-month period, and the bill would require USDA to do the same for certain rural development program loans.
King said the coronavirus relief package rightly included provisions to reduce loan burdens for small businesses across the country, but by excluding rural development loans from the program, the effort left out many rural businesses that are feeling the same pain.