Did you spend money to make sure your workforce was safe from COVID? USDA has a program that you might be eligible for to reimburse you for some of those expenses. The deadline to apply for the USDA Pandemic Response and Safety Grant is next Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 and the USDA is asking specialty crop producers to apply through their portal at: https://usda-prs.grantsolutions.gov/usda.
$650 million in grants will be made available through the grant program to small businesses in certain commodity areas, including specialty crop producers, distributors and farmers markets. Small businesses and non-profits can apply for a grant to cover COVID-related expenses, including personal protective equipment, retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety, shifting to online sales platforms, transportation, working housing and medical costs.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Western Growers and several of its industry allies have repeatedly pressed USDA to provide this kind of assistance to growers who have incurred significant expenses to provide for worker safety.
Fresh produce operations require the most labor out of any other commodity group, so our members had rapidly built up personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, enhance hygiene and sanitation procedures, install infrastructure like plexiglass and designated employee areas to ensure social distancing, and ramp up worker training to ensure awareness of COVID guidance.
Away from the fields and packing houses, growers also made concerted efforts to secure additional housing and transportation to ensure continued social distancing and quarantining options.
The minimum funding request is $1,500 and the maximum is $20,000. The deadline to apply for the grant is 11:59 p.m. PT on Nov. 22, 2021. For more information, the PRS help desk can be reached at (301) 238-5550 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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