More Relief on its way

By U.S. Sen Mike Rounds (R-SD)

We’re now in the end of April and COVID-19 is continuing to impact our daily lives. Around two thousand cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in South Dakota, and social distancing continues throughout the state.

While we hope the end of this period of uncertainty is coming soon, Congress continues to pass legislation to address the crisis and provide much-needed relief.

Recently, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law a $480 billion dollar package that provides more funding for hospitals, nationwide testing, and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so more small businesses can now participate.

The PPP is a loan program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for businesses with 500 employees or fewer, as well as self-employed individuals. As of Friday, April 24, casinos with 500 or fewer employees are now eligible for PPP loans.

I’ve been urging the SBA to make sure tribally-owned casinos and gaming operations in Deadwood are able to receive financial assistance during these times, so I’m glad the administration has now modified their rules.

The PPP provides up to $10 million in loans to businesses to help cover payroll costs for employees, as well as pay for rent, interest on mortgages and utilities. Businesses who use PPP loans to keep employees on the payroll can have most of the loan forgiven.

The PPP was originally allocated $350 billion in the CARES Act, but that money ran out in less than two weeks. This is a sign that the program is working, and businesses are able to keep their staff on the payroll for the time being.

However, because of the high demand for the program, our recent legislation provided an additional $320 billion for the PPP so even more businesses can receive these partially-forgivable loans. The Small Business Administration estimates that more than 80 percent of our small businesses in South Dakota have utilized the PPP so far.

If you’re interested in participating in the program, your local lender will be able to assist you in applying for a loan.

The bill we passed also clarifies that agricultural enterprises are eligible for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), a program that got a funding boost in our legislation.

These loans will provide up to $10,000 of economic grants to businesses hurting because of COVID-19. Our ag community has been struggling for years due to low commodity prices, ongoing trade negotiations and, now, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is finalizing a proposal to provide a relief package to farmers and ranchers whose businesses have been impacted by COVID-19. As a vital component of our nation’s food supply chain, we must do everything we can to make sure they can continue to put food on the tables of America’s families.

The proposal isn’t final yet and needs to go through the official approval process in the federal government, but USDA’s goal is to begin taking applications in May and for farmers and ranchers to begin receiving their relief packages in June.

What we’ve learned about the proposal so far is that USDA will issue a single payment determined using two calculations: for price losses that occurred between January 1 and April 15, 2020, producers will be compensated for 85 percent of the price lost during that period.

The second part of the payment will help to cover 30 percent of expected losses from April 15 through the next two quarters. USDA’s proposal sets the payment limit at $125,000 per commodity with an overall limit of $250,000 per individual or entity.

We will continue reviewing the proposal to assess its impact on South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers. We’d also welcome input from the ag community in our state so we can share it with USDA.

We know businesses and families are struggling right now, and we hope that we’ll be able to safely reopen the country in the near future. In the meantime, we’re working to provide aid for those who need it during this crisis. Stay safe, and don’t hesitate to contact my office if there’s anything we can do to help.

USDA announces food program

Greg Whitlock, Secretary

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.

President Trump directed USDA to craft this $19 billion immediate relief program to provide critical support to our farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of our food supply chain, and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need.

“During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of,” Secretary Perdue said.

“The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America’s farmers and ranchers. This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need.”

CFAP will use the funding and authorities provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and other USDA existing authorities. The program includes two major elements to achieve these goals.

Direct Support to Farmers and Ranchers: The program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.

USDA Purchase and Distribution: USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. We will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products.

The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks, community and faith based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.

On top of these targeted programs USDA will utilize other available funding sources to purchase and distribute food to those in need.

USDA has up to an additional $873.3 million available in Section 32 funding to purchase a variety of agricultural products for distribution to food banks. The use of these funds will be determined by industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis, and food bank needs.

The FFCRA and CARES Act provided an at least $850 million for food bank administrative costs and USDA food purchases, of which a minimum of $600 million will be designated for food purchases. The use of these funds will be determined by food bank need and product availability.

Further details regarding eligibility, rates, and other implementation will be released at a later date.

Additional Background:

USDA has taken action during the COVID-19 national emergency to make sure children and families are fed during a time of school closures and job losses, as well as increase flexibilities and extensions in USDA’s farm programs to ensure the U.S. food supply chain remains safe and secure.

Feeding Kids and Families

USDA expanded flexibilities and waivers in all 50 states and territories to ensure kids and families who need food can get it during this national emergency.

USDA is partnering with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo, and others to deliver more than 1,000,000 meals a week to students in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19.

USDA authorized Pandemic EBT in Michigan and Rhode Island, a supplemental food purchasing benefit to current SNAP participants and as a new EBT benefit to other eligible households to offset the cost of meals that would have otherwise been consumed at school.

USDA expanded an innovative SNAP online grocery purchase pilot program in Arizona and California, Florida and Idaho, and DC and North Carolina, in addition to Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon and Washington.

Actions to Ensure a Strong Food Supply Chain

USDA is working to ensure the food supply remains safe and secure.

USDA announced flexibilities to ensure food distribution for certain food products like dairy and eggs reach retail settings.

USDA announced farm loan flexibilities, deferrals, and maturity extensions.

Whole of Government Response in Rural America

USDA released The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide, a first-of-its-kind resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic.

USDA opened a second application window (April 14, 2020 to July 13, 2020) for $72 million of funding under the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program.

USDA Rural Development lenders may offer 180-day loan payment deferrals without prior agency approval for Business and Industry Loan Guarantees, Rural Energy for America Program Loan Guarantees, Community Facilities Loan Guarantees, and Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees.

USDA will use the $100 million provided for the ReConnect Program in the CARES Act to invest in qualified 100 percent grant projects.

DSS Offers Help To Families

PIERRE – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought uncertainty to individuals and families across South Dakota including financial hardships and the Department of Social Services (DSS) reminds the public it has programs to help.

“The mission of the Department of Social Services is to create strong families,” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. “When families are struggling, there are options to help support and strengthen them.”

For families dealing with financial stress, there are economic assistance programs available through DSS that may help.

Programs include assistance with nutrition, home heating, and healthcare expenses, as well as temporary financial assistance for very low-income families with children who are deprived of parental support.

Eligibility varies by program. To apply, go online to and click on the Economic Assistance tab or call your local DSS office. Contact information for offices across South Dakota is available by clicking on the

Find Your Local Office link at

Childcare assistance is also available to families who meet income guidelines and minimum work and/or school requirements.

Additional information including application forms are available by clicking on the Child Care tab at

“These are difficult times and the Department of Social Services is committed to helping support families through them,” Gill said.

“If an individual lost their job or a family had wages significantly reduced, that can add a lot of stress to an already difficult situation. We are here to help when families need it.”

Scams related to COVID-19

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), St. Louis Field Office, are warning taxpayers to be on the lookout for scam artists trying to use the COVID-19 economic impact payments as cover for schemes to steal personal information and money.

Ron Parsons, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota, and Karl A. Stiften, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), St. Louis Field Office, made the announcement today in an effort to prevent taxpayers from falling victim to criminals using the recently approved economic impact payments as an opportunity to commit a crime.

Automatic COVID-19 economic impact payments started being deposited into taxpayers’ accounts on April 11. For most Americans, this will be a direct deposit into your bank account.

For the unbanked, retirees or other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment in this manner as well.

Scammers may try to get you to sign over your check to them or use this as an opportunity to get you to “verify” your filing information in order to receive your money, and then use your personal information at a later date to file false tax returns in an identity theft scheme.

Because of this, everyone receiving a COVID-19 related economic impact payment from the government is at risk.

Karl A. Stiften, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI St. Louis Field Office warned “The existence of a deadly national pandemic will not stop criminals seeking to capitalize on the fears and difficulties faced by the public as they try to line their own pockets by stealing your money or your personal information.”

“All of us need to vigilant in these times to protect ourselves and our loved ones from being defrauded,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “You should report any suspicious activity to federal law enforcement immediately. If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19 or stimulus relief, you can contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866- 720-5721 or via email at”

Special Agent in Charge Stiften offers the following information and tips to spot a scam and understand how the COVID-19 related economic impact payments will be issued.

For the rest of the story, pick up this week’s edition of the Winner Advocate or subscribe to the Winner Advocate at 1-605-842-1481!

Keiser Nominated For Argus Leader Sports Award

Dan Bechtold/ Winner Advocate Photo

Kaden Keiser of the Winner Area wrestling team is one of the nominees for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader sports awards in wrestling.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event will be an online broadcast with national celebrities that will air June 18 at 6 p.m.

The Argus Leader Sports awards are an annual event that honors high school athletes, coaches, teams and community members for their achievements during the 2919-2020 school year, culminating with the unveiling of boys and girls athletes of the year.

Keiser is a four-time state placer. As a 7th grader he took 6th place and as an 8th grader he was runner-up.

Keiser is a two-time state champion his freshman and sophomore years.

“Kaden is very deserving of this award,” said Winner wrestling coach Spencer Novotny. “He has a great work ethic and is never satisfied. He has goals and he does what he has to do to accomplish them.

Not only is he a four-time placer he broke Jason Orel’s (2003 season) takedown record this year as a sophomore. Kaden is one of those guys that leads by example and pushes his teammates. He is al all around good kid.

He is sitting at 183 wins after his 10th grade season,” said Novotny.

The sports show will feature more than 20 professional athletes as hosts and presenters as part of the annual tradition of honoring high school athletes for their hard work and dedication during the past school year.

In addition to Keiser, Nash Hutmacher of Chamberlain is nominated for this honor. Hutmacher won last year.