LEGISLATIVE UPDATE July 7, 2020
The Legislature recessed June 26, 2020 and will be back August 25, 2020. When the Legislature returns, they will be finishing the budget for rest of the fiscal year and review the stimulus bills that were passed. They may also work on other legislation that was not finished by June 26. The tentative plan for the legislature is to adjourn by mid-September.
In this update, I will give you an overview of S-351 and S-350, the two bills passed by the House and Senate and signed by the Governor. S-351 and S-350 are both stimulus bills: S-351 for dairy, non-dairy agriculture, and forestry, and S-350 for businesses other than dairy and forestry. I will do an end-of-the-session update when the legislature adjourns in mid-September for other bills.
S-351 An act relating to providing financial relief assistance to the agricultural community due to the COVID-19 public health emergency
THE AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE IS WORKING ON THE APPLICATION FOR THESE MONIES. THE APPLICATION WILL BE AVAILABLE ONLINE SOON.
APPROPRIATIONS SUMMARY S-351
- Dairy Farmer Assistance Program $25,000,000
- Dairy Farm / Milk Producers $21,200,000
- Dairy Processors $3,800,000
- Non-dairy Agricultural Producer and Processor $5,000,000
- Assistance Program Vermont Housing and Conservation Board $192,000
- Forest Economy Stabilization Grant Program $5,000,000
- Fairs and Field Days $500,00
To qualify for assistance under this section, a milk producer or dairy processor shall:
- be currently producing milk or dairy products.
- be in good standing—no final enforcement violation or grant violation pending.
- accurately demonstrate to AAFM economic harm that occurred or accrued on or after March 1, 2020 and before December 1, 2020 by providing evidence of losses or expenses caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency
A milk producer may elect to have its economic harm determined by calculating the difference between what the producer was paid for milk produced between March 1, 2020 and December 1, 2020 and the price that the producer would have been paid if the price for milk remained at the statistical uniform price of $18.13 per hundredweight for the Middlebury location in January of 2020, or the milk producer may enter its own verifiable average price for March through December 2020 and calculate the difference to its own verifiable average price for January 2020 as well as added costs or expenses related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Small farms shall receive up to$18,300.
- Certified small farms shall receive up to $34,300.
- Medium farms shall receive up to $56,000.
- Large farms shall receive up to $100,000
- Dairy processors that process less than 500 pounds of milk per day shall receive up to $31,000
- Dairy processors that process from 500 to 9,999 pounds of milk per day shall receive up to $40,000
- Dairy processors that process from 10,000 to 49,999 pounds of milk per day shall receive up to $50,000
FROM THE AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE
When the application opens, the Agency will communicate broadly through cooperatives, processors, service providers, and other channels to ensure that the dairy community is aware of the opportunity. The Agency is also developing a FAQ document, webinar, and training numerous service providers to help guide applicants through the process.
- To expedite the submission process, the Agency recommends dairy producers and processors begin collecting documentation regarding milk checks, federal COVID relief program payments, and other expenses incurred due to the pandemic.
- The application for other agricultural sectors is also in development and will be released after the dairy assistance program. The Agency will be developing guidance for this application to ensure producers and processors understand the opportunity. To expedite the submission process, the Agency recommends collecting documentation regarding expenses incurred due to the pandemic, payments from any other federal program, and loss in sales. When this application is open for submission, the Agency will announce and share broadly with partner organization to distribute to their members.
FOREST ECONOMY STABILIZATION GRANT PROGRAM
The legislature passed S.351on June 26, 2020, including funding and the framework for a Forest Economy Stabilization Grant Program (FESG), to provide $5 million dollars in Coronavirus Relief Funds available to qualifying businesses in Vermont’s forest economy.
Only one grant from Vermont’s Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) will be awarded per business entity and Employer Identification Number (EIN).
1 When will the Forest Economy Stabilization Grant (FESG) application be available?
We are still in the program development phase and expect to announce the opportunity to submit applications by mid-July.
2.Forest Products Business Eligibility
To be eligible, the business under these NAICS codes must meet both conditions below:
- Be a forest products business primarily engaged in (“primarily engaged in” means more than 50%) managing, harvesting, trucking, processing, manufacturing, crafting, or distributing forest or wood products, AND
- Those forest or wood products must be primarily (at least 50%) grown in, and harvested from Vermont forests, or processed by a Vermont forest products business (processed products are those purchased by a forest products business that processed wood that is primarily grown in or harvested from Vermont’s forests).
- If you DO meet these eligibility criteria, you should begin organizing documentation of business revenue (on a monthly basis) from March 1 to October 1 of 2019 and year-to-date 2020, state and federal COVID relief program payments, and expenses incurred as a result of the pandemic.
- If you DO NOT meet these eligibility criteria, you should apply for ACCD’s economic recovery grants that opened onMonday, July 6.
S-350 An act relating to creating emergency economic recovery grants
The following businesses and nonprofits are able now to apply for Economic Recovery Grants:
- If you are a business that is primarily a Restaurant, Bar, or Lodging Property that collects the Rooms and Meals Tax, or a Retail, Entertainment or Recreation Operation that collects the Sales and Use Tax and reports to the Vermont Department of Taxes on a monthly or quarterly basis, you should apply for a grant with the Department of Taxes. EXAMPLES: restaurant, bar, hotel, inn, retail store, online retail, golf course, movie theater
- All Other Businesses that do not collect the Rooms and Meals Tax and/or Sales and Use Tax, OR if your business reports to the Department of Taxes on these taxes for a minimal amount of your overall revenues, should apply for a grant with ACCD. EXAMPLES: manufacturer, property management, construction, realtor
- Non-Profit Arts and Cultural Organizations should apply for a grant with ACCD. EXAMPLES: museum, theater, gallery, performing arts group
- Women-and Minority-Owned Businesses that don’t fall under any other sector-specific program should apply for a grant with ACCD. This includes Women-and Minority-Owned sole proprietorships with zero employees.
- Outdoor Recreation Businesses should apply for a grant with ACCD. EXAMPLES: trail areas, climbing centers, bike tours
What are the eligibility criteria for the Economic Recovery Grants administered by ACCD?
An eligible business will be a nonpublic, private organization that:
- Is domiciled or has its primary place of business in Vermont
- Has one or more non-owner employees in Vermont, with the exception that Women-and Minority-Owned businesses with zero employees are eligible for grants through ACCD
- Was open and active before February 15, 2020
- Is open at the time of application, or is required to have closed due to COVID-19 restrictions but can certify to its intention to re-open when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted
- Is not a business or organization, nor a subsidiary of a business or organization, nor owned by a business or organization, that reported more than $20,000,000 in total revenue
- Has experienced a 50% or greater drop in total revenue in any one-month period from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020, when compared with the same month in 2019
- Is not currently in Chapter 7 bankruptcy
- Is in good standing with the Vermont Department of Taxes
- Is in good standing with the Vermont Secretary of State
- Has not received a Vermont Emergency Economic Recovery Grant from another State of Vermont Agency or Department
FROM THE AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE
The Agency of Ag has created a COVID-19 resource page for access to the latest industry guidance and resources for agricultural-related service providers, businesses, and interested parties.This page can be found on the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets website. Vermont.gov is the state’s website where you will find the latest information from all state agencies regarding COVID-19.
To contact the Sergeant of Arms, call 802 828 2228