WASHINGTON - Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), the lead Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today re-introduced The Small Business Drought Relief Act of 2003, in order to provide emergency assistance to non farm-related small businesses that have suffered economic harm caused by the drought that has impacted the West and Midwest for over a year. The small businesses targeted in this legislation are struggling businesses that have been denied access to disaster loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

"From our ski resorts to marinas, small businesses who rely on water are facing tough times without any financial safety net," said Kerry. "We must close the loophole that prevents these businesses from receiving the same access to low-interest disaster loans that are available to farmers and ranchers - loans, not grants - to keep these businesses on their feet and open for business."

Small businesses across the country continue to suffer from drought, thus Kerry has called for immediate consideration to prevent further economic casualties. Under the current Small Business Act, non-farm-related small businesses are covered by emergency assistance for a variety of disaster situations -- drought is currently not 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.

The bi-partisan legislation has received widespread support in Congress and among Governors and small businesses.