UPDATE: After this article was sent to the printer for the May 2020 Equiery, the following changes occurred…
Funds have been replenished for PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) and Small Business Administration (SBA) has opened the EIDL program to all agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees as long as they were operating as of January 31, 2020. You may be eligible for a forgivable grant of up to $10,000.
The following article was first published in the May 2020 Equiery

Grier Melick, Business Consultant for Maryland Small Business Development Center

On Tuesday, April 14, the Maryland Horse Council hosted a Town Hall webinar to help horse farm owners understand the various COVID-19 relief programs being offered by the state. After a welcome speech by MHC President Neil Agate and overview by Jane Seigler, chair of MHC’s Legislative Committee, guest speakers began their presentations. Guest speakers included Brooke Schumm, President of and a Principal of Daneker, McIntire, Schumm, Prince, Manning & Widmann, P.C.; Paul Goeringer, Extension Legal Specialist; Keith Wills, Commercial Loan Officer with MidAtlantic Farm Credit; Steve McHenry, Executive Director of MARBIDCO; and Grier Melick, Business Consultant for Maryland Small Business Development Center.

Over 60 people logged into the live Town Hall meeting, asking a variety of questions at the end of the session. More questions were emailed to MHC Executive Director Carrie Hull after the meeting was over. MHC and The Equiery reached out to Grier Melick to help answer these additional questions.
Melick, who owns two businesses as well, has been with SBDC for the past two and a half years. He has a master’s degree in finance from Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and grew up on a farm in central Pennsylvania where his family had two horses. His background makes him acutely aware and familiar with the challenges of small farm owners.

Q. What exactly is the SBDC and what free services does it provide?
A. The SBDC or Small Business Development Center is a resource for entrepreneurs. We are a national program funded by the US Small Business Administration and the State of Maryland. We offer no-cost one-on-one consulting services to business owners as well as a number of no cost and low-cost training classes.

Q. What is the best way for business owners to contact SBDC?
A. The best way to reach us is via our website https://www.marylandsbdc.org/. On it you can sign up for our training classes or a consulting session and we also have a page dedicated to resources helping small business owners during the pandemic.

Q. Some horse farms have revenue sources that are ancillary to the care of the horses, like hosting competitions, providing lessons, renting horses for trail rides, etc. Can these farms apply for grants and/or loans through Maryland SBDC?
A. So this question gets a little tricky, the SBDC cannot give grants or loans, we help businesses apply through local, state, and federal programs. All the businesses you listed can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as well as a lot of county funds. Depending on the main source of income they should also be able to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), but you will want to check with an SBDC consultant for more specific advice. At the moment these programs are closed awaiting more federal funding, but we do expect them to be reopened.

Q. Are there any grants specifically available to feed horses, pay utilities, mortgages, and other operating costs for a lesson/show stable?
A. There are none that I know of specifically to feed horses, but up to 25% of PPP funds can be used for things like paying utilities and mortgage interest. These programs are changing every day so it is important for business owners to remain proactive and look for these grant programs at the local, state, and federal levels, the funding typically doesn’t last long.

Q. Does the state and/or individual counties provide any type of tax credit or relief for land that is designated for agricultural purposes, specifically for horses?
A. As for the state I am not sure. My main focus is Montgomery County, and I know the Agricultural Reserve has an Agricultural Easement Program to help farm owners, given some specific requirements. The IRS also has a few tax credit programs businesses can take advantage of.

Q. What NAICS* codes could be used to define equine training, events/competitions and activities that produce revenue as a competitive sporting venue?
A. Your NAICS code is going to depend on where most of your income comes from. There are countless different codes which you can fall under. For an LLC, you should be able to find the NAICS that defines your business on your tax returns (form 1120S) in the upper left-hand corner called “business activity code”

Q. What about NAICS codes specifically for equine lesson stables?
A. The best advice I can give is look at your tax returns to see how you are classified with the IRS. For the most part if your principal income does not come from actual farming you should not have a problem applying for the EIDL.

Q. What are the deadlines related to applying for grants through SBDC?
A. Most of the local, state, and federal grant and loan programs do not have specific deadlines, but the funds are limited and going quickly. It is important to apply as quickly as you can.

Q. If the state-wide stay at home mandate continues into the summer, will there be any other grants, loans or other relief funds available later on this year?
A. It is difficult to say if there will be more rounds. At the moment Congress is trying to get a deal together to fund the PPP and EIDL programs again. The state should do another round of grants and loans but it is unclear if they will.

Q. Could a barn owner be considered an entrepreneur and how would that help with grant and loan applications?
A. A barn owner is 100% an entrepreneur! If you create a product, service or goods, and you sell those products, services, or goods you are an entrepreneur! Realizing that may help realize that there are a lot of resources that you can take advantage of such as the EIDL, PPP and using the SBDC.

*A NAICS (pronounced NAKES) Code is a classification within the North American Industry Classification System. The NAICS System was developed for use by Federal Statistical Agencies for the collection, analysis and publication of statistical data related to the US Economy.