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Rensselaer County dairy farm gets economic relief from CARES Act

Emily De Vito
Updated: April 16, 2020 07:05 AM
Created: April 15, 2020 11:55 AM

POESTENKILL – As part of the CARES Act signed by President Donald Trump, relief is on the way for some businesses impacted by the coronavirus. One business feeling relief Wednesday is Wagner Farms in Poestenkill in Rensselaer County.

Through the paycheck protection program, they will be able to continue to pay employees who help with their dairy farm.

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"There's no substitute, they are our team and they make the earth spin here," said Keith Wagner speaking about the farm's employees.

Wagner's grandparents started the farm back in the 1950s. He said it's been a tough time for the dairy industry the past five years and the pandemic only made it worse.

"What it did is it created a demand in the grocery stores which is a good thing there was a lot of panic buying," said Wagner. "But it also shut down schools and restaurants which is probably about half the demand so we're actually ending up with a milk price that could possibly be half of what it was and it wasn't fantastic to begin with before the coronavirus."

A low milk price means less money coming in to pay the bills. Wagner called many banks looking to apply for the paycheck protection program which is run through the small business administration. The National Bank of Coxsackie started funding its first loans this week, they say they're among the first to do so.

"Tons of inquiries," said Charlene Slemp with the National Bank of Coxsackie about the paycheck protection program. "The program kind of rolled out really quickly so we kind of had to get it together really quickly."

The program offers small business owners no-fee loans and the loans will not need to be repaid if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. National Bank of Coxsackie is still accepting applications for the program.

"We worked very hard to master the program, we've done that on both ends not only the funding part but the forgiveness part which I think people are only looking, but eight weeks from now they're going to want their loan forgiven and we know how to do that," said President of National Bank of Coxsackie James Warren.

Even with this help though, farmers throughout the state are concerned about what's on the other side of this pandemic.

"As far as the future goes, it's so uncertain we're not really sure what to expect," said Wagner.

For more on the paycheck protection program, click here.


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