New challenges for rural people and rural places

The Center for Rural Affairs is committed to continuing our work for opportunity and justice for everyone in rural America during the rapidly evolving response to the Coronavirus.

COVID-19 and the ripple effects will create new challenges for rural people and rural places. Our work may look different in the days ahead, but we will continue to serve our mission in all ways possible.

During this time, the Center will act to prioritize staff, community, and public health. We recognize staff, clients, and community members have varying risk levels from COVID-19. We’re all concerned about spreading it to someone who is at risk. We will do our part to reduce transmission.

What you can expect from us:

  • Our offices will be closed beginning Monday, March 16, until further notice. Staff are working remotely.
  • In-person Center events will be canceled, postponed, or held virtually until further notice. If you have an event scheduled with us, look for communication from staff about remote communication, cancelation, or postponement.
  • Stay tuned. We’ll look for innovative ways to engage communities and policymakers in the coming weeks. We also urge all to follow public health guidance, check in on your neighbors, and support local businesses when you can.

We encourage you to stay safe and take steps to reduce spread of the Coronavirus. Being engaged and staying healthy are two of the most important things we can do to help our communities. We’ll get through this together.

Here are a few resources for you:

COVID-19 disaster information

Nebraska Department of Health and Human ServicesIowa Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and Iowa Emergency Management Association

Federal Emergency Management Agency COVID-19 response

Department of Homeland Security COVID-19 response

State of Nebraska - Nebraska Disaster Resource Guide

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information

U.S. Department of Labor

Business, housing, and individual relief resources

COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide - the U.S. Department of Agriculture's federal rural resource guide which lists federal programs that can help rural communities, organizations, and individuals impacted by COVID-19.

Small Business Administration Disaster Loan program - Apply online; Coronavirus (COVID-19) Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources

  • Current Declared Disasters
     
  • Small business owners in Nebraska are now eligible to apply for SBA economic injury disaster loans (updated March 23, 2020) - Nebraska has now been issued the required Federal Declaration of disaster to allow small business owners to apply for low-interest SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Any small business owner affected by COVID-19 since the beginning of January 2020 can apply for the loan here.
     
  • Available disaster loans through the Small Business Administration:
    • Business Physical Disaster Loans – Loans to businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property owned by the business, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Businesses of any size are eligible. Private, non-profit organizations such as charities, churches, private universities, etc., are also eligible.
    • Economic Injury Disaster Loans – Working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.
    • Home Disaster Loans – Loans to homeowners or renters to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate and personal property, including automobiles.

Small business resources

Center for Rural Affairs Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) - staff are available throughout Nebraska to assist businesses with free one-on-one counseling. Contact the representative in your area for assistance. Bilingual services are available. We are offering loan relief, emergency credit. 

COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Loans fact sheet - learn about the Payroll Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program on a fact sheet put together by the Center for Rural Affairs

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act from the U.S. Senate Committee for Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for businesses and employers

Business-oriented disaster toolkit from Carolina Small Business

Agricultural resources

Check out our blog "Stimulus package—what do family farms need to know?"

The Small Business Administration opened its Economic Injury Disaster Loan on May 4, 2020, to agricultural enterprises only. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health care Enhancement Act provided additional funding for farmers and ranchers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. An Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000 is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is investing up to $9 million in research on the impact of COVID-19 on American agriculture. NIFA is accepting applications for research or extension activities that focus on developing and deploying rapid, reliable, and readily adoptable COVID-19 agricultural strategies across the food and agriculture enterprise: health and security of livestock; food and food processing; well-being of farm workforce, food service providers, and rural Americans; and economic security.
Applications are due June 4, 2020.

Farm Aid maintains a hotline to offer farmers advice and support, and refer farmers to a network of farm and rural support organizations across the country. Call 1.800.FARM.AID or email farmhelp@farmaid.org. Farm Aid has also put together this list of resources

Rural Advancement Foundation International offers mini-grants to North Carolina farmers - Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA) will be distributing emergency mini-grants of $500 to farmers who are drastically impacted by market sales disruptions caused by COVID-19. Funding is currently limited to farmers located in North Carolina.

COVID-19 Resources for Farmers - from our friends at Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service. "As we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re doing everything we can to help farmers succeed in these trying times. We’ll add new resources as they become available, so check back often."

The Farmers Legal Action Group has compiled an excellent guide for farmers navigating the maze of federal programs available for farmers, ranging from small business support to unemployment insurance to changes to the bankruptcy code. 

Webinar on Online Sales Platforms for Farmers - hosted by Oregon Tilth. Watch this webinar to learn more about direct-to-consumer online sales platforms, including Barn2Door, Harvie, Local Food Marketplace, Food4All, and Open Food Network. Oregon Tilth has also posted questions to ask when considering online sales platforms. 

Considerations for Fruit and Vegetable Growers Related to Coronavirus & COVID-19 - from the University of Vermont Extension. The resources provide information on health and food-safety steps that growers should take, as well as planning and communication advice for markets and farmers markets. They also provide examples of what leading farms and markets are doing to address risk.

Farm Commons has created a series of six podcasts addressing COVID-19's effect on farm businesses. These free podcasts of approximately 30 minutes each cover the legal ramifications of topics such as sick leave, unemployment, social distancing, diversifying sales, and online sales.

Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health has developed an informational website to guide agricultural workers through questions they have about working with community spread COVID-19. 

​These webinars from Iowa State University go over some of the financial nuts and bolts for farmers applying for aid programs. 


U.S. Department of Agriculture - Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service

Wellness, health, and mental health resources

Nebraska Disaster Behavioral Health - 800.464.0258

Iowa Concern - 800.447.1885 (legal issues, finance, stress, and crisis/disaster)

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

Nebraska Family Helpline - 888.866.8660

Nebraska Rural Response Hotline - 800.464.0258

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - 800.985.5990

Partner resource compilations 

Kansas Rural Center - COVID-19 Guidance for Farms and Communities

NCAT ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture - Resources including a video series, webinars, and general information compilations for agricultural producers, farmers markets, farmers and ranchers, and community/food sovereignty, including resources in Spanish.

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