In a USDA press release dated Sept. 7, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that $700 million in competitive grant funding will be available through the new Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program to help farmworkers and meatpacking workers with pandemic-related health and safety costs.
Additionally, to recognize the essential role and costs borne by front-line grocery workers, $20 million of this amount has been set aside for at least one pilot program to support grocery workers and test options for reaching them in the future. The new program is funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and is part of USDA’s Build Back Better efforts to respond and recover from the pandemic.
The program will provide relief to farmworkers, meatpacking workers, and front-line grocery workers for expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This relief is intended to defray costs for reasonable and necessary personal, family, or living expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as costs for personal protective equipment (PPE), dependent care, and expenses associated with quarantines and testing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Request for Application (RFA) will be announced in early fall and will be open for 60 days. Additional information and technical assistance for applying to these grants and program updates will be provided by USDA when the application period opens.
Funds will be awarded through grants to state agencies, Tribal entities, and non-profit organizations serving farmworkers and meatpacking workers ranging from $5,000,000 to $50,000,000. USDA is setting aside $20 million for at least one pilot to provide targeted support to front-line grocery workers. Eligible entities must demonstrate the capacity to reimburse farmworkers and meatpacking workers for up to $600 for expenses incurred due to the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will offer technical assistance through one or more partners and webinars for applicants to help them understand the RFA, once it is published. Additionally, grants management specialists will be available to answer any incoming questions and emails after the details are announced. For more information about upcoming webinars, grant eligibility, and program requirements, visit the FFWR webpage at www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/ffwr, or contact us at email@example.com.
Applications must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov. A subsequent press release and materials will detail the deadlines and application procedures.
USDA will also be soon announcing a separate $700 million suite of pandemic safety and response grants for producers, processors, farmers markets, distributors, and seafood processors and vessels impacted by COVID-19.