“Don’t let New York’s wineries soar”
US Senator Charles E. Schumer in a meeting with industry officials from Finger Lakes Winery at Three Brothers Winery in Seneca County recently announced his willingness to secure additional funding for Finger Lakes wineries hard hit by the effects of the ongoing pandemic, including the bipartisan Emergency Injury Disaster Loans Act (EIDL) for Small Businesses in upcoming “COVID-4” legislation. The EIDL for Small Business would provide a total of $ 180 billion in additional credit for the EIDL program – $ 100 billion for the loan program and $ 80 billion for the Advance Grants program – would lift the cap of 150,000 $ imposed by the SBA on EIDL loans to enable the grant can reach $ 2 million and eliminate the SBA policy of providing $ 1,000 per employee for EIDL Advance grants to ensure that all loan applicants receive the grant. entire grant of $ 10,000 created by the CARES Act. This proposal would also retroactively provide wineries that have already received loans and grants from the program the full amount they would have been eligible for had the SBA restrictions not been in place. These additional funds will be allocated without the need to provide additional documentation.
By mid-July, the EIDL Advance grant program ran out of funds, so small businesses can no longer benefit from this financial relief until the program is recapitalized. Small businesses in New York State have received over $ 1.3 billion in EIDL Advance grants and over $ 16.5 billion in EIDL loans. Hundreds of small businesses across the Finger Lakes applied for and received EIDL funding before the funding ran out, including about 120 businesses in Seneca County and dozens of Finger Lakes wineries and related tourism businesses. Schumer explained that since New York is one of the top 3 wine producers in the country and 90% of the state’s wine is produced in the Finger Lakes, the region has been particularly devastated by the sharp drop in wine tourism and demand for restaurants.
“As the Finger Lakes region reopens and begins to carefully rebuild itself from the pandemic, the federal government should do everything in its power to bottle additional relief for wine producers who are creating jobs in the region. their communities and are essential to the fabric of New York, ”said Senator Schumer. “Many local New York wineries are suffering from the pandemic, and the Senate must act immediately to get them the federal support they need to weather the economic crisis. “
Schumer explained that many wineries were initially barred from receiving an EIDL loan and advance grant. In many cases, the SBA has refused wineries and vineyards that have applied on the grounds that they are farming businesses. As a result, Schumer secured a provision to address this issue in the Interim “COVID 3.5” Pandemic Relief Bill which ultimately allowed agricultural businesses, wineries, wineries and farms to be eligible. to EIDL programs. By the time wineries and other farming businesses realized they could now apply after the “COVID 3.5” eligibility patch, the EIDL Advance grant program was running out of funding and the SBA had capped loan amounts.
Schumer said Finger Lakes wineries particularly rely on the revenue generated by visitors who typically flock to their tasting rooms by bus. But current restrictions on visitor capacity caused by the pandemic are reducing that revenue as wineries are forced to incur new costs for PPE and other safety upgrades.
“Without federal dollars, the additional costs of PPE and safety procedures to keep workers healthy and safe in addition to already declining revenues could be overwhelming, especially for small wineries. That’s why we need to take action on ‘COVID-4’ and commit to saving our Finger Lakes wineries from exhaustion, ”Schumer added.
In 2019, New York’s wine industry accounted for 71,950 jobs. Additionally, wine consumption in New York City generated $ 179.37 million in state and local taxes, and the industry itself paid $ 1.12 billion in state and local taxes, totaling nearly $ 1.3 billion for New York State and its communities in a single year. Before COVID, the wine industry also attracted 4.71 million tourists per year, generating $ 1.8 billion for the surrounding region.
Jim Trezise, President of WineAmerica, said, “Senator Schumer’s leadership on the EIDL program is just the latest example of his decades-long support for the US grape and wine industry. This initiative could give a real boost to small wineries decimated by the Covid-19 crisis, just like the restaurant bill that it strongly supports. We are very grateful for his defense of our industry.
The bipartite EIDL law for small businesses will:
• Provide $ 100 billion in credits for the EIDL loan program;
• Provide $ 80 billion in credits for the EIDL Advance grant program;
• Prohibit the US Small Business Administration (SBA) from imposing limits below $ 2 million on loans in the event of economic disasters;
• Prohibit the SBA administrator from imposing limits in advance of EIDL and all eligible small businesses will receive the full $ 10,000 grant, regardless of size;
• Require that EIDL Advance grants be disbursed to eligible small businesses within three business days of application and not be conditional on approval of the EIDL loan;
• Require the SBA to provide current EIDL borrowers and former EIDL Advance commercial beneficiaries to retroactively receive, before caps are placed, additional support without the need for additional documentation;
• Require the SBA to submit a monthly report to the House and Senate committees on small business and credit on 1) the state of the disaster loan account, including bonds, allowances and undistributed / unallocated amounts; 2) allowances, obligations and expenses for all open disasters; and 3) an estimate of when the available funds will be exhausted.