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USDA is Now Accepting Applications for Matching Grants Under the Higher Blend Infrastructure Incentive Program
U.S. Deputy of Agriculture (USDA) has launched an online portal to begin accepting applications for Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) grants. The program is designed to expand the availability of higher blends of both ethanol and biodiesel to retail consumers. The USDA is offering up to $100 million in grants to help transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs for installation of compatible fuel dispensers and related underground storage tank equipment and infrastructure. USDA is making grants available for up to 50 percent of total eligible project costs, but not more than $5 million per project. According to the USDA, approximately $86 million is available for implementation activities related to higher blends of fuel ethanol, and approximately $14 million for higher blends of biodiesel. Higher biofuel blends are fuels containing ethanol greater than 10 percent ethanol and greater than 5 percent biodiesel. Eligible recipients include, but are not limited to, vehicle fueling facilities, local fueling stations/locations, convenience stores, hypermarket fueling stations, fleet facilities (cardlocks), fuel terminal operations, midstream partners and/or distribution facilities.

All applications must be filed electronically. The USDA will not accept paper applications. The deadline for submitting electronic applications is August 13, 2020 by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Electronic applications and detail about upcoming webinars being held tomorrow and on May 26 are found at https://www.rd.usda.gov/hbiip.

U.S. Small Business Administration Releases Application and Instructions for PPP Loan Forgiveness
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has released the application borrowers must submit to their lenders to qualify for Paycheck Protection Loan (PPP) forgiveness. The application is accompanied by a number of worksheets and instructional pages that provide clarity on a number of critical questions facing PPP loan recipients. The application is important to petroleum marketers and heating fuel dealers because it:

  • Sets forth the steps that must be taken to obtain loan forgiveness;
  • Provides flexibility in calculating the eight-week loan forgiveness period;
  • Affirms that costs incurred but not paid during the eight-week period count toward forgiveness;
  • Clarifies the timing of when a PPP loan must be spent; and
  • Confirms the level of reduced loan forgiveness for noncompliance.
  • Calculating Loan Forgiveness Period
The qualifying period for calculating PPP loan forgiveness is the eight-week period (56 days) after the loan is received by the applicant. Companies that pay employees on a biweekly or more frequent basis may opt for the Alternative Payroll Covered Period where the eight-week period for calculating forgiveness starts on the date of the first payroll after receiving the PPP funds.

Calculating Forgivable Expenses
Payroll Costs – Payroll cost expenses are the central part of the forgivable loan amount. Payroll costs include compensation to employees up to $15,385 per employee for the eight-week covered period. Employer contributions towards group health insurance, retirement plans or employer state and local taxes on employee compensation over the same period are also included in forgivable expenses. Businesses may also include payroll costs incurred during the loan period but paid on the next regular payroll date after the end of the eight-week qualifying loan forgiveness period. Payments made to the business owner are also included in loan forgiveness expenses up to $15,385 or the eight-week equivalent of the business owner’s average compensation for 2019, whichever is the lower amount.

Non-Payroll Costs – Expenses related to mortgage, rent and utility payments paid or incurred during the eight-week loan forgiveness period may be included in the loan forgiveness amount. These expenses must be paid during the eight-week period or by the next regular payment cycle after the loan forgiveness period ends.

Additional Information:
  • Applicants can obtain the PPP loan forgiveness application and instructions online or from their PPP loan originator.
  • The PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and Instructions may be found here.
  • The U.S. SBA PPP Loan Webpage may be found here.
House to Vote on More-Flexible Small Business Loan Program
More than 50% of small business owners want to have their PPP money forgiven, a survey finds.
 
CDC Publishes Reopening Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published detailed guidelines for reopening businesses, schools, and other venues that have been shut down during the pandemic. This document is the most extensive guidance yet offered by the CDC, which has spent weeks embroiled in controversy over how far it should go in influencing institutions' decisions about how to reopen safely.The White House initially ordered the CDC to revise an earlier draft of the reopening guidelines over worries that it was "too prescriptive." The document includes "Interim Guidance for Restaurants and Bars" starting on page 53.

FDA Releases New Food Safety Checklist
The re-opening guide is designed for previously closed or partially closed food establishments.

Fuel Demand Sees 22% Rebound
Late April saw straight increases in gallons of gasoline purchased for non-essential businesses.

The Sanitization Challenge
Food retailers are working to keep their stores clean—and communicate that to customers.

NGA Raises Concerns Over Egg and Meat Price Increases
As grocers continue to experience dramatic price spikes in the market for protein products, NGA is raising concerns with Congress and State Attorneys General over protein supply chain practices. Early in the crisis, grocers faced record-setting egg prices and now are dealing with significantly higher meat prices.  Grocers are left shouldering the blame from customers and often state law enforcement over price gouging, when in fact grocers are actually the victims of price gouging. NGA is calling on Congress and State AGs to closely review suspicious increases in supplier meat pricing in letters addressed to Congressional leadership and the National Associations of Attorneys General. The letters make the case that the dramatic increase in meat prices, despite falling cattle prices, during that past several weeks highlights this problem. Grocers are either having to squeeze their own razor thin margins to keep prices low or pass along the increased cost to keep customers happy and risk price gouging allegations. 

Retailers Struggle With Coronavirus Staffing Costs
Employers want to reward workers but face huge increases in expenses.

Oil Demand Is Making a Comeback
More vehicle traffic increases the need for fuel.

Support Frontline Employees With the AG CHAIN Act
The bill seeks to exempt a portion of 2020 earnings from federal income and payroll taxes.

Spending in C-Stores Is on the Upswing
The candy and non-alcoholic packaged beverage categories see solid growth.

Global Online Sales Jumped 209% in April
And some retailers with no online presence are struggling.

NACS Unveils Age-Verification Program
The next-generation program will revolutionize the way retailers check consumers' ages.


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