By Margrit Lent Parker, Esq., www.lentparkerlaw.com, with contribution from Kathie Riley, Esq.
As our nation faces the human struggle with the novel coronavirus, our economy is also reeling. Solo and small business owners are faced with immense financial challenges. In the horse industry, these challenges are compounded by a key characteristic of our industry—we can’t just close our doors and stop caring for our horses until the stay-at-home orders start to lift. So, what are we to do? There are no perfect answers, but many options exist that should be explored to help achieve cash flow and bridge the gap, however long that gap might be, until businesses can begin to operate more normally again. For assistance ranging from federal aid to local equine hay banks and horse owner financial aid, read on below:
Federal Relief and Forgiveable Loans: While the roll-out of these new measures has been plagued with problems, there are a number of loan and relief measures available for small businesses of all stripes, from sole proprietors to independent contractors to non-profits. Do not count yourself out until you’ve checked out the resources available, contacted your local Small Business Development Center (Colorado SBDC), and talked with your bank. Programs include the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. In certain instances, loans may be forgiven. Update 4/16/2020: The Small Business Administration announced that funding for the PPP has been fully expended, and the SBA is no longer accepting new applications for the PPP or the EIDL programs. The SBA and the US Treasury are urging Congress to appropriate additional funding. In the meantime, businesses are recommended to continue to work with their lenders to ensure their application documentation is ready if and when any additional funding is appropriated. Other SBA loan and debt relief programs are still providing funds.
Federal and State Tax Deadlines and Payment Extensions: Tax filing and payment deadlines have largely been extended on the federal and state level, as well as with many local governments. Consult with your accountant.
State Relief: Colorado unemployment benefits may be available for employees who have had hours reduced or are temporarily furloughed. The State of Colorado is also keeping up to date a list of alternative sources of funding for Colorado small businesses, as well as a list of Colorado non-profit lenders. As of April 17, the Colorado Department of Labor stated it is now able to accept unemployment claims for newly eligible workers under the CARES Act, such as the self-employed and gig workers.
Your Business Relationships: Consider all of your business relationships and contracts, commercial leases, auto loans, bank loans, credit cards, etc. Consider reaching out to proactively negotiate deferrals of monthly payments, reduced monthly payments, or some other new payment plan that reduces the amounts you need to pay in the near future. For example, anecdotally, some have had success having auto loan payments suspended without penalty for a month or more. Although not always feasible, some landlords have agreed to forgive some portions of rent. Interestingly, while it is not an enforceable order, the City of Denver just yesterday issued a proclamation urging the state and federal executives to impose rent and mortgage moratoriums for those unable to pay during the Covid-19 emergency.
Hay Banks and Financial Aid for Horse Owners: Colorado Horse Rescue of Longmont, CO has a “Leg Up Program” to provide short-term financial aid to owners in difficult, temporary financial situations. The Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance likewise has At-Risk Grants, one-time emergency funding available to horse rescues, equine organizations, and veterinarians for at-risk or vulnerable horses. CUHA also is sponsoring several groups that have set up hay banks, for example Drifter’s Heart of Hope (also partnered with Colorado Horse Rescue in Longmont),End of the Trail Rescue, Inc. (according to their Facebook page), and Colorado Horse Rescue Network in Rush, CO (according to theirFacebook page). Fleet of Angels also has a hay bank.
Local and Nonprofit Resources: Scour local community efforts to help. Particularly for nonprofits, there are efforts to help. For example, the Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation is directing donations to assist backstretch workers. An example of community efforts is the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Covid-19 Relief Fund from the Longmont Community Foundation.
For more resources and links, visit Lent Parker Law’s Covid-19 resource page. If you know of a resource available to horse industry businesses and owners not listed here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will update this post.
About the Contributors: Margrit Lent Parker is a Colorado and Wyoming licensed attorney based in Firestone, Colorado. She provides legal services to horse industry businesses and professionals, as well as other small businesses and licensed professionals, and also provides individual estate planning services. Contact Margrit at email@example.com, 303-481-2866. Kathie Riley, firstname.lastname@example.org, is a Colorado attorney and mediator serving the equine and agriculture industries.