Ag News

Government responses to COVID-19 on ag topics

by Georgia Farm Bureau

Posted on Mar 25, 2020 at 0:00 AM

On March 17, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp asked the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for economic injury disaster loans by having the SBA issue a disaster declaration for the state.

“Small businesses in Georgia are enduring severe economic hardship stemming from the spread of COVID-19. The effects of this pandemic vary by industry and economic sector, but it is clear that we must act,” Kemp said. “Georgia small businesses are the backbone of our state and national economies, and we look forward to working with SBA and our federal partners to support them in the weeks and months to come.”

On March 18 the SBA, under authority granted in the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, issued the disaster declaration.

As a result, Georgia small businesses in all 159 counties are now eligible to apply for assistance from the SBA in the form of Economic Injury Disaster Loans. These loans can offer up to $2 million in assistance to provide working capital to address financing and cash flow issues. The interest rates are 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits. SBA offers up to a 30-year loan, and terms are decided on a case-by-case basis. Businesses should expect to provide a tax transcript, financial statements, and a profit and loss statement. Click here to apply or click here for more information and resources.

Other government actions of interest to ag:

GEORGIA PORTS AUTHORITY: The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) remains open for business, though all in-person meetings have been postponed until further notice. The GPA Credentialing Center is open but operating under modified conditions by adhering to social distancing guidelines. Specifically, the credentialing office will only serve one visitor at a time. For more information call the Port of Savannah at 912-963-5539 or the Port of Brunswick at 912-280-6943.

The GPA indicated it is communicating directly with employees and other logistics professionals serving our ports to encourage increased awareness of health safety. GPA encourages all port customers using its facilities to follow the health and safety protocols established by the CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

TAX FILING DEADLINE: On March 21, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced an extension of the federal income tax filing due date from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.

Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15 to July 15 without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.

Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief. Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline can request a filing extension by filing Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on Businesses who need additional time must file Form 7004.

The IRS urges taxpayers who are due a refund to file as soon as possible and indicated that most tax refunds are still being issued within 21 days.

On March 23, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced that the Georgia tax filing deadline would be extended to July 15, as well. The Georgia Department of Revenue has suspended in-person services. Taxpayers can conduct all business with the Department via online services at, by telephone at 404-417-2100, or through designated secure lockbox locations.

LAND TRANSPORTATION: Trucks hauling agricultural commodities are exempt from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours of service rules.  

In Georgia, all the Department of Driver Services (DDS) customer service centers are closed until April 1. DDS customers are urged to use DDS online services or the DDS 2 GO app.

Under Gov. Kemp’s March 23 executive order, all valid Georgia driver’s licenses, including CDLs and CDL medical certificate grace periods, and ID cards with expiration dates between March 23 and June 30 are automatically extended for 60 days. New CDLs will not be issued during this period.

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