The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $650 million in the Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant program. The PRS grant program is aimed at supporting farmers and ranchers who have not received notable financial assistance in response to COVID-19. Another new initiative, the Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant program will also be providing additional assistance. USDA will soon be publishing Requests for Applications for each of the new programs.
“As the economy continues to gain strength after the Biden Administration’s historic vaccination and economic relief efforts, USDA is working with agricultural and food businesses to ensure they have the resources and tools to thrive in 2021 and beyond,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “The funding associated with USDA Pandemic Assistance is meant to serve as a bridge from disruptions associated with the pandemic to longer-term investments to help build back a better food system. Financial relief to these essential producers, distributors, processors and other small agricultural businesses is a critical to get our food system back on track.”
The PRS grant program will provide support for small-scale specialty crop producers and processors, as well as other select producers, processors, and distributors. USDA is expecting to issue approximately 200,000 awards to eligible small businesses through the program. The estimated application due date will be November 8.
The Seafood PRS grants will provide assistance for seafood processing facilities and processing vessels. Eligible entities include state agencies, commissions, or departments in eligible states. The estimated application due date will be November 22.
Funding will be issued in the form of grants to cover costs related to COVID-19 that were incurred between January 27, 2020, and December 21, 2021. Eligible activities covered under the grant programs include retrofitting facilities, transportation, workplace safety measures, and worker housing.