Please check in and view new material in the OWB’s COVID-19 Oregon Wine Industry Toolkit. With many in the industry facing tight deadlines for decisions and expressing increasing interest in the federal government’s emergency financial aid, additions to the Financial Assistance and Business Resources section of the toolkit include analyses provided by the Oregon Winegrowers Association, attorneys at Davis Wright Tremaine and other industry partners.
We will have information coming soon on the OWB’s webinar with guest bankers explaining the latest developments as the federal government refines and clarifies its financial aid support packages for businesses. For now Save the Date: Thursday, April 9 at 10 a.m. Conference details to come.
In the toolkit, you’ll now find this side-by-side comparison from DWT examining two of the most well-known relief package components: the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans.
Visitors to the EIDL application webpage will quickly notice that the first page of the eligibility verification requires an applicant to certify that their business is “not an agricultural enterprise (e.g., farm), other than an aquaculture enterprise, agricultural cooperative, or nursery.”
That language is obviously troubling for wine grape growers across the country. So Senators including Oregon’s Ron Wyden, the American Farm Bureau, and wine advocacy groups at the state and federal levels are already in touch with Administrator Carranza at the Small Business Administration asking for guidance clarifying that agricultural businesses are eligible to participate in the EIDL program as modified by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law last Friday.
DWT also provides this summary from the U.S. Treasury dedicated specifically to the Paycheck Protection Program. PPP accepts applications from any agricultural business owner. “Fully Forgiven” funds are available as loans to be used for up to eight weeks of payroll costs and employee benefits, rent, interest on mortgages and utilities. No fees are to be charged and there are no collateral requirements. Be sure to read the fine print for important details on maintaining staff levels or rehiring employees who have recently been laid off. Your record-keeping will matter since 75% of the forgiven amount must be used for payroll.
The Oregon Wine Council offers this link to recent NFIB webinars and PowerPoint presentations with details on additional financial resources available to small businesses during the emergency. NFIB is the National Federation of Independent Business, the largest small business association in the U.S.
There are blog posts and additional resources on the DWT site related to other ways in which the CARES Act relates to our industry.
The final financial aid note for today is this late-breaking news from the office of Representative Kurt Schrader in Oregon’s Fifth Congressional District. Rep. Schrader is hosting a webinar next Monday, April 6 at 9 a.m. Sign up using the link here. The featured speaker is Jeremy Field, SBA Regional Administrator for the Pacific Northwest Region.
Turning now to compliance questions following our Governor’s recent Executive Orders, the OWB convened another call with industry leaders yesterday, and business owners mentioned the continuing need for guidance on implementing social distancing requirements in the workplace. With Oregon Health Authority guidelines still being written, winery and vineyard owners are referred for now to OSHA and urged to produce a policy based on OSHA guidelines and to identify an “employee or officer” responsible for implementing and enforcing the policy. We will point you to OHA rules when they are published.
Thank you to those who answered the call a couple weeks ago and completed WineAmerica’s COVID-19 economic impact survey. 1,085 wineries from 49 states responded, including 205 from Oregon. Among the findings is an estimated $40.4 million financial loss for the industry nationwide just during the month of March. More survey details can be found here.
Finally, after consulting with industry marketing experts about how to quickly attract and engage consumers during the suspension of normal winery operations, the OWB unveiled a new online destination designed to reinforce the unique connection fine wine fans have to Oregon. We redirected program dollars to generate broader awareness via paid social advertising and will continue to build the campaign’s reach in the coming weeks. See the landing page here and stay tuned for ways your business can get involved.