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COVID-19 Update on Pandemic Assistance for Farm and Food Small Businesses

If your farm or food business is an SBA “small business” you may be eligible for funding for grants to help you respond to coronavirus.

The recently announced USDA Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant Program provides grants between $1,500 to $20,000 to farmers of eligible commodities, businesses that provide post-harvest packing and sorting of specialty crops, food processors/manufacturers (including meat slaughter and processing), food wholesalers (including food hubs), all farmers markets, and businesses offering refrigerated warehousing and storage of food products to respond to coronavirus, including for measures to protect workers against COVID-19. 

The grant covers:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Retrofitting Facilities: Retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety (plexiglass, walk up windows, heat lamps, fans, tents, propane, weights, tables, chairs).
  4. Transportation: Additional transportation costs incurred to maintain social distancing.
  5. Worker Housing: Additional worker housing costs incurred to maintain social distancing or to allow for quarantining of new or exposed employees.
  6. Medical: Unreimbursed costs associated with providing or enabling vaccinations, testing, or healthcare treatment of infected employees, including any paid leave. 

You may request funds for costs already incurred and/or anticipated costs. The costs must be associated with eligible activities/outcomes implemented between January 27, 2020, and December 31, 2021. Funds will be sent as a single payment at the time of award. 


Important Dates:

  • Application period opens October 6, 2021
  • Application period closes at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on November 22, 2021
  • All applications submitted before the deadline will be considered for funding. Applications will not be reviewed on a first come, first served basis.

What should you do to be ready to apply?

Applicants will be required to obtain a DUNS Number from Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) prior to applying for this program. D&B has created a custom landing page to streamline this process. Visit the application website (https://usda-ars.grantsolutions.gov/) for more information. Do this as soon as possible!


Are You Eligible?

USDA is focusing this first round of funding on 1) certain small sized producers, 2) food processors and distributors that meet small business size standards, and 3) farmers markets . The determination as to whether a farm is an SBA small business is different than USDA definitions for a small farm. For example, a small apple farm is a farm whose revenue is $5,000,000/year or less over a 3 year average. 

Check whether your farm or business is a “small business” using this link. Eligibility Info – usda (grantsolutions.gov). This eligibility link also lists the eligible business types for this round of funding.


What if I am Not Eligible?

USDA is focusing this first round of funding on certain commodities due to the unique impacts of the pandemic on their businesses. According to the website, 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.


What if I have more than one type of eligible business (e.g. a farm and a packing house), can I apply for more than one grant?

If the operations are registered as separate business entities with unique DUNS numbers and meet the PRS eligibility requirements, then each entity may apply for PRS funding.


For More Information

A webinar will be held on Wednesday, October 13, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss how to apply for this program. Register now. The webinar will also be recorded for later viewing, and registering to attend will also add you to the list to receive the recording.

For more information contact me (Liz Higgins) at emh56@cornell.edu.

Elizabeth (Liz) Higgins

Elizabeth Higgins is an Extension Ag Business Specialist with the CCE Eastern NY Commercial Hort Team, serving fruit and vegetable growers in 17 counties. She is a veteran of multiple federal disasters (Katrina recovery in Louisiana and Irene/Lee in the Catskills) and has experience in working with individuals, businesses and communities to identify and use disaster programs. She can be contacted at emh56@cornell.edu.
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