The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service is now seeking comments pertaining to grant programs to support food processing, distribution, seafood processing, farmers markets and producers and other businesses identified in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Deadline for comments is March 31, and a related Zoom webinar will be hosted by AMS on March 19.
The new legislation directs USDA to use grant funds in helping businesses respond to COVID-19, including for measures to protect workers against the virus, and the comments can be submitted via online portal or by email to AMSCOVIDStimulus@usda.gov. A release from the USDA notes the agency welcomes “feedback from all interested parties, and we appreciate early response.”
The March 19 listening session is designed to provide groups and individuals an opportunity to share views on how USDA can serve the industry through this program. All interested stakeholders are invited to attend and are also invited to register to provide oral comments during the session, which will be conducted via Zoom webinar from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET on March 19.
Registration for the webinar will remain open until the start of the event or until the session is full, but to provide oral comments during the session, participants must register by midnight ET on March 16. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email with instructions to join the webinar. Registrants who request to speak will be contacted by a staff member and must participate in a practice session to test audio requirements. Speakers will be introduced by a moderator, and speaking time is no more than three minutes.
The agenda will be available on the website by March 18. Questions regarding the listening session can be directed to AMSCOVIDStimulus@usda.gov, and persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication should contact the USDA Target Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). AMS encourages comments from smaller businesses, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, veteran producers, and underserved communities, and/or organizations representing these entities and “expects commenters writing or speaking on behalf of these entities to engage and involve them in planning comments.”