The new USDA Pandemic Response and Safety Grant is now available for farmers who have or will incur expenses related to safety or market pivots from January 2020 until December 21, 2021. The deadline is November 22nd and you can apply for between $1,500 and $20,000. I’m in the process of applying for my mid-sized farm. We pivoted from wholesale to direct marketing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you were operating during the pandemic, you probably have eligible costs if you did any of the following:
- Implement workplace safety measures
- Implement market pivots to protect workers
- Retrofit facilities for worker and consumer safety
- Provide additional transportation options to maintain social distancing and worker and consumer safety
- Provide worker housing that protects workers against COVID-19
- Provide health services to protect workers against COVID-19
For example, my farm purchased gloves, masks, and a thermometer for our workers to comply with safety guidelines. We shifted most of our sales to CSA shares that were packaged in boxes and distributed through a curbside pick-up site or delivered to homes. In order to keep up with the growing demand, we will be expanding our washing facilities to allow for social distancing.
So far, I’ve found the online application process simple and very straightforward. The online portal allows you to check your eligibility and meet the DUNS number requirement all in one place. I provided my business name and address and the system discovered I already had a DUNS number assigned to my farm. Don’t worry if you don’t have a number yet — you can apply through the portal for free and receive your number in up to 5 days.
The actual online application was surprisingly only two pages. On the first page, I provided the DUNS number, general business information, two points of contact, and eligibility status. Like most market farmers, I fell into the small business and “other vegetable and melon farming” category. The second page consists of an easy, fill-in 2×6 chart. In the first column, I reported my expenses from each of the six previously mentioned categories. In the second column, you can report your actual costs to date, but that is optional.
Since I kept a clean record of my expenses, it only took me a few hours to complete. And even though I don’t need to submit documentation with my application, I’ll be keeping my records on hand in case my application is selected for spot-check. I strongly encourage farmers to learn more and apply if they’re eligible. Please visit Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program – USDA or call the dedicated PRS help desk at (301) 238-5550 for more details.