NTRA Update on Federal Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

Below is a letter from Alex Waldrop, NTRA President and CEO. The NTRA’s site has many helpful links to alert horsemen of various issues related to the Coronavirus pandemic. Access is available at www.ntra.com/covid-19/ 

NTRA Update on Federal Response to Coronavirus Pandemic
March 26, 2020

Like virtually every other industry and sport, U.S. horseracing is grappling with the realities and uncertainties brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of businesses and individuals – from farms to racetrack employees, trainers, and the backstretch workers who care for our horses – have had their lives disrupted in ways we could not have imagined only a short time ago. That being said, the industry’s first priority at this time must be the health and safety of our workforce and the general public at large.

In response to the pandemic, Congress and the Administration are in the process of passing a series of bipartisan bills aimed at combating the coronavirus, jump starting the economy and providing financial relief to individuals and businesses during these uncertain times. Here is a list of the recently enacted and pending legislation:

The Coronavirus Preparedness Response and Supplemental Appropriations Act, already passed by Congress and signed by the President, allows $1 billion in loan subsidies to be made available to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and non-profit organizations which have been impacted by financial losses as a result of the coronavirus. Contact your local small business administration office for more details on how to access this new loan program.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, also passed by Congress and signed into law, provides paid leave, establishes free testing, protects public health workers and provides important benefits to children and families for those impacted by the coronavirus. Protections for the employers of affected workers also are included in the legislation in the form of tax credits to offset the costs of providing emergency sick leave.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act is a bill now before the U.S. Senate that is expected to provide an economic stimulus package valued at $2 trillion. The bill would provide direct payments to many Americans, including individuals and couples; $130 billion to hospitals that are seeing their resources stretched to the brink and beyond in their battle to combat the coronavirus, $500 billion for corporations; $367 billion for small businesses; $150 billion in aid for local and state governments; and billions of dollars in extended unemployment benefits for furloughed workers.

We expect this bill to be passed by both House and Senate and signed by the President by the end of this week. The NTRA continues to review this massive stimulus package and will provide details as they become available. It is likely that Congress will turn its attention in coming weeks or months to a fourth bill, especially if the crisis worsens. While the first three bills are aimed mostly at the general economy, the fourth bill may well focus on damage to specific economic sectors and efforts to help those sectors and their workers.

Undoubtedly, our industry has been adversely impacted with racetrack and casino closures, the postponement of equine sales, and other negative economic events necessitated by federal, state and local orders and recommendations as well as the industry’s own duty and responsibility to promote the safety of our workforce and public health in general.

Our challenge with regard to this fourth bill will be to compete with many other industries for limited federal resources, especially since our industry is built most visibly on sports betting and entertainment. Nonetheless, we are significant employers and represent a massive agribusiness with an extensive economic footprint across the nation. We will make our case at the Federal level for horseracing as we advocate for our $36.6 billion industry that accounts nationwide for nearly half a million jobs.

Stay safe and stay tuned for future updates, and please visit NTRA.com for information on how our industry is responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

– Alex Waldrop, NTRA President and CEO