The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) applauds the federal government for listening to the concerns of OFA and industry stakeholders by implementing much needed changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program.
The CEBA program provides $40,000 in interest free loans to eligible small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
It has been a long process to get eligibility requirements in place that work for family-owned and operated farms.
In a letter sent to Federal Minister of Finance, Hon. Bill Morneau on May 1, 2020, OFA outlined the restrictive eligibility requirements that prevented many farmers from accessing the program. Specifically, the requirement for at least $20,000 in payroll prevented many family-run operations from qualifying.
Many family members in the business are compensated from profits of the business rather than through payroll. Additionally, many farm businesses rely on custom work and contract work which also did not qualify as payroll under the CEBA program.
When the changes were made to allow businesses with $40,000 in non-deferrable expenses, the initial list of eligible expenses appeared to be restrictive. On June 16, 2020, OFA submitted another letter to Minister Morneau asking for input costs to be eligible expense items for the CEBA program. It has come to our attention that many input costs can now be considered non-deferrable expenses. This will allow many more family farms to be eligible for the CEBA program. Members who were previously ineligible for the program are encouraged to get back in touch with their financial institutions and see if they might be eligible.
One issue that still needs to be addressed is the requirement for the applicant to have a business bank account with the financial institution that they are applying through. Many smaller farms and other small businesses operate through a personal rather than business bank account. OFA urges the government to provide a workable solution for these farmers and small business owners.
Click here for more information about government financial assistance programs for farm businesses.