USDA announces $700M in grants to provide relief to agricultural workers
The USDA yesterday announced that $700 million in competitive grant funding will be available to help farm and meatpacking workers with pandemic-related health and safety costs.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the funding will be available through the new Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program.
The announcement was made in a press call with United Farm Workers Foundation Executive, Director Diana Tellefson Torres and United Food and Commercial Workers International President, Marc Perrone.
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.
This relief is intended to defray costs for reasonable and necessary personal, family, or living expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Request for Application (RFA) will be announced in early Fall and will be open for 60 days.
“As we celebrate the social and economic achievements of our nation’s workers on Labor Day, we recognize that our farmworkers, meatpacking workers, and grocery workers overcame unprecedented challenges and took on significant personal risk to ensure Americans could feed and sustain their families throughout the pandemic,” Secretary Vilsack said.
“This Labor Day, let us not forget the sacrifices farm workers made as essential workers in order to keep our food supply intact during the pandemic. And as we honor the contributions of workers across our nation, let’s show gratitude to the men and women who feed America and the world,” Diana Tellefson Torres, UFW Foundation Executive Director said.
“We now applaud the Biden-Harris Administration, Secretary Vilsack and USDA for recognizing the vital role of farmworkers in the nation’s food security and economy, through this new program. The work is not done until this much-needed pandemic relief reaches farmworkers across the nation, and we look forward to working with USDA to that end.”
“America’s meatpacking and grocery workers have been on the frontlines since the pandemic began, risking their health every day to keep our food supply secure during this crisis. This new USDA grant program recognizes the incredible service and sacrifices of our country’s essential food workers by providing the critical financial support they need," UFCW International President Marc Perrone said.
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.