WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), lead Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, yesterday re-introduced the Small Business Drought Relief Act to provide emergency aid to non-farm-related small businesses suffering economically from the severe drought conditions throughout the nation. The small businesses assisted by this legislation are struggling businesses that have been denied access to disaster loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“Farmers and ranchers are not the only small business owners whose livelihoods are at risk when a drought hits their communities,” Kerry said. “The impact can be just as devastating to rafting businesses, marinas, and bait and tackle shops. Sadly, these small-businesses owners cannot get help through the SBA’s disaster loan program because of something taxpayers hate about government -- bureaucracy.”

The SBA does not treat all drought victims the same. The Agency only helps those small businesses whose income is tied to farming and agriculture. The Small Business Drought Relief Act will close this loophole, giving all small businesses hurt by drought access to low-interest loans through the SBA. The loans will be for business-related purposes, including for paying bills and making payroll until business returns to normal.

Currently there are 19 states suffering from severe to extreme drought. Because many small businesses across the country continue to face financial hardships caused by factors beyond their control, Kerry has again called for immediate consideration of the Small Business Drought Relief Act to prevent further economic strain.

The legislation has previously received widespread bipartisan support in Congress and among Governors and small businesses. During the 108th Congress, the Small Business Drought Relief Act (S.318) had 19 Republican and Democratic cosponsors and passed the Senate unanimously. In the 107th Congress, Kerry’s legislation (S.2734) had 25 Republican and Democratic cosponsors and passed the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.