Small scale specialty crop producers and processors, meat processors and distributors, and farmers markets were all significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and received insufficient federal support to address the costs they incurred to keep workers safe and help keep the U.S. food supply intact during the crisis.
The Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant Program will provide grants to small businesses in these commodity areas to support the pandemic response, including for measures to protect workers against novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID–19).
Approximately $650 million is available to fund applications through the Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program (PRS). Funds will be used to issue grants for costs incurred between January 27, 2020, the date upon which the public health emergency was declared by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, and December 31, 2021. Grants will cover the activities associated with:
- Workplace Safety Measures: Workplace safety measures, including, but not limited to, personal protective equipment, sanitizer, hand washing stations, air filters, thermometers, cleaning supplies, or similar items.
- Market Pivots: Market pivots such as transition to virtual/online sales costs (online platform development and fees, online marketing, credit card processing fees), supplies, new signage.
- Retrofitting Facilities: Retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety (plexiglass, walk up windows, heat lamps, fans, tents, propane, weights, tables, chairs).
- Transportation: Additional transportation costs incurred to maintain social distancing.
- Worker Housing: Additional worker housing costs incurred to maintain social distancing or to allow for quarantining of new or exposed employees.
- Medical: Unreimbursed costs associated with providing or enabling vaccinations, testing, or healthcare treatment of infected employees, including any paid leave.
The minimum funding request amount is $1,500. The maximum funding request amount is $20,000. Funding requests may range from $1,500 to $20,000.
The small business size qualifications align with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) guidelines except for specialty crop producers, where SBA set the threshold for all agriculture producers regardless of specific segment at $1 million.
USDA analysis of operations producing specialty crops, showed that the high value crops meant that a higher revenue level was needed to support a small full-time operation than agriculture producers in general and set the specialty crop small business threshold at $5 million.
A similar review of aquaculture, finfish farming, and shellfish farming operations suggests that this analysis would also be applicable to those operations. Because of similarities, the small business threshold for aquaculture, farmed finfish, and farmed shellfish producers is set at $5 million.
All applicants must be domestic entities owned, operated, and located within the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
While USDA is focusing this first round of funding to small businesses, USDA may expand eligibility in future rounds of funding to include additional businesses not covered by the first round. Future rounds are dependent upon availability of funds. USDA is also focusing this first round of funding on certain commodities due to the unique impacts of the pandemic on their businesses, USDA may expand eligibility in future rounds of funding to include commodities not covered by the first round. No cost sharing or matching funds are required.
Additional details are available at Grants.gov.
Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Worker Pandemic Relief and Protection Program. USDA-AMS-TM-PRS-G-21-0011. Applications due 22 November 2021 11:59 PM ET.