Senate releases $300 billion COVID-19 relief package

By Erin Voegele | September 09, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced on Sept. 8 the U.S. Senate will vote this week on a $300 billion COVID-19 relief bill released earlier in the day. The bill does not contain dedicated relief for biofuels, but does contain provisions that could benefit some biofuel producers.  

A summary of the bill, named the “Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act,” explains it would provide the USDA with $20 billion for farm assistance and provide the Secretary of Agriculture with broad authority to address COVID-19-related impacts on farmers, ranchers, growers and processors. According to the bill, that funding could be used to support producers, growers and processors of specialty crops, non-specialty crops, dairy, livestock and poultry.

While the bill does not specifically mention ethanol or biodiesel, similar language was included in a Senate relief package released in July. At that time, lawmakers said biofuel producers would be considered eligible entities for the USDA relief funding.  

The legislation would also create a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program with reforms to require new applications show revenue loss and maintain loan documents consistent with IRS requirements. Small businesses that meet the SBA’s revenue size standard, if applicable; have 300 or fewer employees. Demonstrate at least 35 percent reduction in gross revenue in a 2020 quarter relative to the same 2019 quarter would be eligible to receive a second PPP loan. Those second PPP loans would be equal to 2.5 times average monthly payroll costs, with a maximum value of $2 million. The bill would also simplify the forgiveness application process for current and future PPP borrowers receiving loans under $150,000 or less.

Data released by the U.S. Department of Treasury on Aug. 8 shows that many fuel ethanol plants have accessed the PPP program. According to that data, approximately 70 businesses categorized under NAICS Code 325193 received PPP loans ranging in value from $150,000 to $2 million. Companies identified by NAICS Code 325193 are primarily engaged in the manufacturing of nonpotable ethyl alcohol. Fuel ethanol production falls under the category.