WASHINGTON - Today Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, offered legislation to aide small businesses affected by the drought conditions devastating economies in numerous states across the nation. The Small Business Drought Relief Act will provide emergency assistance to non-farm small businesses that have suffered economic and physical injury because of drought conditions but are falling through the cracks of Federal assistance programs - most of which fall under the Department of Agriculture.

“Drought conditions hurt more than the agricultural community - they have devastsing effects on all sectors of the economy,” said Senator John Kerry. “As a nation, we can not afford to lose more jobs, more revenue, because current law exempts drought from the long list of disaster situations that would require emergency money. Businesses that rely on lakes, streams and general water supply suffer dramatically during dry summer months and it is time to address their needs and ensure their survival during trying financial times.”

More than 30 states are currently suffering from drought conditions. Under the current Small Business Act, small businesses are covered by emergency assistance for a variety of disaster situations, however drought is not currently one of them. The Small Business Drought Relief Act will close this loophole and help small businesses access low-interest loans through the Small Business Administration for business-related purposes, including to pay their bills and make payroll until business returns to normal.