More than $100 billion still available for small businesses

A new bill signed June 5 provides more flexibility to businesses participating in the Paycheck Protection Program. The changes extend loan forgiveness costs up to 24 weeks instead of eight. The bill also reduces the threshold of payroll expenses from 75% to 60%.

More than $100 billion is still available. The deadline to apply has been extended to Dec. 31, 2020. The program provides incentives to small businesses to keep employees on the payroll.

Eligible businesses can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any participating federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, or Farm Credit System. University of Illinois Extension provides a current list of available COVID-19 relief programs at extension.illinois.edu.

Online course on managing stress available to farmers

A newly released free online course, Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training. is now available at go.illinois.edu/ruralresilience. The self-paced course can be completed in under three hours.

“The goal is for participants to identify signs and symptoms of stress and suicide, reduce the stigma of needing help, and connect farmers and ranchers with resources that might be able to help,” says Cuthbertson, whose research focuses on mental health and substance use.

On a farm, most pressures are constant and uncontrollable. Machinery breaks; weather delays work; commodity prices fluctuate. The work is isolating and stressful, which puts farmers at risk for chronic stress and can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts or action.

Prolonged stress also diminishes problem-solving abilities which, on a farm, can lead to injury. Accident and injury rates are higher for farmers than other occupations.

The three-unit course covers managing stress, communicating with farmers, and suicide awareness. The goal is to help rural communities, including farmers, family members, and anyone in the agricultural industry feel confident enough to talk about and manage stress.

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