Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, today Senator Snowe and I have introduced a bill to help a group of nearly 300 fishermen, known as aquaculturists, who are falling through the cracks of the Government's disaster assistance programs. Right now these businesses are prohibited from receiving SBA disaster loans, and they are eligible for USDA disaster loans only under limited circumstances.

To our dismay, we have learned that SBA has come across this dilemma many times in the past, most recently last year in Connecticut, and yet no one at that agency has ever tried to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture. To make matters worse, the SBA waited two weeks to let us know that they wouldn't be able to serve all our small businesses. So even in those cases in which these harmed small businesses would be eligible for loans from the USDA, hundreds of small businesses are left waiting for the Secretary of Agriculture to go through the same hoops to certify a disaster and make that agency's disaster loans available. I appreciate all the Farm Service Agency has done to expedite the process, and compliment their staff for being so responsive. However, this isn't right.

Our State has been hit by the worst case of red tide in more than 30 years. These small business owners have seen their income disappear because they can't sell their inventory. With no income they can't pay their bills, invest in seeds to plant future crops, and they can't afford to maintain their current crops. They need access to these low-cost loans to help them makes ends meet until the Government opens the shores and declares shellfish once again safe to eat.

Businesses in trouble can't, and shouldn't have to, wait for this redtape to be resolved. To make sure this doesn't happen in the future, I am joining Senator Snowe to make it possible for aquaculturists to be eligible for SBA economic injury disaster loans. This will complement what the Department of Agriculture's Farm Services Agency can offer in disaster loans. I want to also assure my colleagues that businesses are only eligible for loans through the SBA or Farm Service Agency but not both. This is already prohibited by law, and the agencies have in place procedures to protect against misuse. I than Senator SNOWE for working with me to help our fishermen hurting from red tide.

I ask unanimous consent that an article on this problem be printed in the record.