PALISADE, Colo.- Clark Orchards has been in Palisade for generations supplying the Grand Valley and other parts of the state with produce.
Small agricultural producers are eligible to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans (part of the massive federal economic stimulus package to aid in coronvirus relief). Clark Orchards owner Dennis Clark says for now, he’s focused on production, and has not yet applied for a PPP loan.
“Ag (agriculture) is always in a different situation than most of the country,” said Clark. “We were I guess, essential, and still working and farming full speed ahead.”
But Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado has made it a priority to let small agricultural producers know they can get help from the paycheck protection program.
“Business that are in the most need, need access to it,” Bennet said. “And a lot of those businesses are agricultural. There are a lot of farmers and ranchers in our state and across the country that don’t even know they’re eligible for PPP.”
Right now Dennis Clark employs about 16 people, but was planning on having 3 dozen more workers by summer during peak produce season. He’s not seeking paycheck protection program help right now, but says he is more worried about seasonal environmental challenges.
“Ag around here has taken a solid hit with the spring frost a week ago. And it’s going to effect lots of growers in different ways. It’s hard to employ people if you don’t need them.”