According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, $700 million in competitive grant funding will be added to the new Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) in order to aid frontline workers inside the farm and meat-packing industries. All of them will be granted pandemic-related health and safety costs. During a press call with the United Farm Workers Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres and United Food and Commercial Workers International President Marc Perrone. It was also confirmed that $20 million of this income will be directed at at least one pilot program that will support grocery workers that will serve as aid to support them in the future.
All of these expenses are directly related to the effects the COVID-19 pandemic may have in frontline workers of these areas. When the crisis started, they were the first ones to be exposed to the virus and many of them lost their lives due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), lack of testing and lack of funding to allow them to quarantine when they got infected. All of that changes now with these stimulus checks that come right as the winter season starts with all the holiday shopping increasing throughout the country. Vilsack confirmed that a Request for Application (RFA) for this program is set to be announced early in the Fall and it is set to remain active for 60 days.
Vislack thanks all frontline workers for their sacrifices.
These funds will come through grants to all state agencies, Tribal organizations and non-profit entities that specifically serve all of these frontline workers. The quantities that will be paid periodically will range between $5,000,000 to $50,000,000. Here’s how Vilsack had to say: “As we celebrate the social and economic achievements of our nation’s workers on Labor Day, we recognize that our farmworkers, meat packing 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 Secretary 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.”
“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. The UFW Foundation worked tirelessly to advance legislation that would empower USDA to support farm workers throughout this pandemic,” added Diana Tellefson Torres, UFW Foundation Executive Director.
“We now applaud the Biden-Harris Administration, Secretary Vilsack and USDA for recognizing the vital role of farm workers in the nation’s food security and economy, through this new program. The work is not done until this much-needed pandemic relief reaches farm workers across the nation, and we look forward to working with USDA to that end.”