The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is accepting applications for the new Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) grant program first announced on Sept. 7, 2021. The program will provide $665 million to fund competitive grant applications to provide relief to farmworkers and meatpacking workers who incurred pandemic-related health and safety costs.

Of the $665 million, $20 million is set aside for at least one pilot program to support grocery workers in recognition of their essential role. 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 Request for Application will be open for 90 days.

This FFWR 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.

“America’s farmworkers, meat packing workers, and grocery workers have remained as essential in our recovery as they were in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “USDA has sought to identify those in our food supply chain who provided critical support to the nation and are overdue relief for their efforts. We look forward to partnering with organizations through this grant program to ensure this aid, and our gratitude, reaches these frontline workers.”

Eligible state agencies, tribal entities and non-profit organizations serving farmworkers and meatpacking workers can apply now through Feb. 8, 2022, at www.grants.gov for grants ranging from $5 million to $50 million.

Eligible entities must demonstrate the capacity to reimburse farmworkers and meatpacking workers for up to $600 for expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA encourages grant applications that demonstrate trusted communications networks with farmworkers, meatpacking workers, and/or front-line grocery workers, as well as strong financial controls. The grant requires applicants to show connectedness to hard-to-reach worker populations either directly or in partnerships with other local organizations. Applicants should be able to describe how they will partner with smaller organizations to facilitate financial relief to such populations.

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will host a webinar for interested applicants on Nov. 17, 2021. Registration details will be shared via stakeholder notice and on the FFWR webpage at www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/ffwr. In addition, AMS is offering technical assistance for applicants to help them understand the application process. For more information about upcoming webinars, grant eligibility, and program requirements, visit the FFWR webpage or contact us at FFWRGrants@usda.gov.

Through its Build Back Better initiative, USDA is helping ensure the food system of the future is fair, competitive, distributed, and resilient; supports health with access to healthy, affordable food; ensures growers and workers receive a greater share of the food dollar; and advances equity as well as climate resilience and mitigation.