September 27, 2021

USDA Offers Farm and Food Workers Relief Grants Program

USDA Offers Farm and Food Workers Relief Grants Program

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Farm and Food Workers Relief Grant Program, expected to provide $700 million in competitive grants to farmworkers, meatpacking workers, and frontline grocery workers. This grant program is intended to contribute towards necessary personal, family, or living expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as costs for personal protective equipment, dependent care, and expenses associated with quarantines and testing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“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,” said USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “They deserve recognition for their resilience and financial support for their efforts to meet personal and family needs while continuing to provide essential services. This grant program is another component of this Administration’s efforts to ensure assistance to alleviate the effects of the pandemic is distributed to those who need it most.”

The funding for this program is through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and part of the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better response to the pandemic. Of the $700 million, $20 million will be allocated towards a pilot program to support grocery workers. The Request for Application will be announced in early fall 2021 and will be open for 60 days. Eligible entities must demonstrate the capacity to reimburse farmworkers and meatpacking workers for up to $600 for expenses incurred due to the pandemic. 

“Meatpacking plants experienced some of the most deadly COVID-19 outbreaks when the pandemic first began, and there are few workers more deserving of our thanks and support. Across the country, meatpacking workers have had to use their own money to pay for personal protective equipment to stay safe on the job, shoulder the burden of increased childcare costs, take on expenses from COVID-19 testing and quarantining, and much more,” said the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International President Marc Perrone. “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.”

Additionally, USDA plans to announce 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.

Go here for more information on the Farm and Food Worker Relief Grant Program.