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$65 million in grants available for Agricultural/H-2A Employers by Jan. 3

The United States Department of Agriculture has set aside $65 million through the Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Grant Program (FLSP). Through this program, employers in the agriculture industry can obtain from $25,000 to $2,000,000 from the government to use in salaries, housing, plane tickets for H-2As flying to and from the U.S., equipment, etc. depending on how many workers are hired and if they fill certain criteria designed to protect the rights of the workers. The deadline to apply for these grants is January 3, 2024.

Up to $65 million will be available to fund grants under this solicitation. The maximum award amount is $2,000,000 and the minimum amount is $25,000 per grant agreement. Award amounts will be determined based on the projected number of full-time equivalent (FTE) agricultural employees, and requested award level.

The FLSP program aims to improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency by addressing challenges agricultural employers face with labor shortages and instability. The FLSP Program seeks to advance the following Administration priorities and funds will be awarded with the purpose described below:

Goal 1: Drive U.S. economic recovery and safeguard domestic food supply by addressing current labor shortages in agriculture; Goal 2: Reduce irregular migration from Northern Central America through the expansion of regular pathways; and Goal 3: Improve working conditions for all farmworkers.

USDA will advance these priorities by awarding grants to agricultural employers, to be known as Awardees, that commit to all Baseline Requirements and choose to apply for employees through the H-2A Temporary, Agricultural Employment of Foreign Workers Program (“the H-2A program”) as outlined in Section 218 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and based on the additional competitiveness of their application.

Awardees must demonstrate an effort to effectively recruit U.S. based workers and hire all willing, able, and qualified U.S. applicants; if Awardees are unable to meet their labor needs through this recruitment, they must submit an application for Temporary Employment Certification (Form 9142A), in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) H-2A program.

USDA requests applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2023 Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot (FLSP) grant program. Section 1001(b)(4) of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) (Pub. L. No. 117-2) provides funds for the FLSP program, for the purpose of providing “loans and grants and other assistance to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency.” The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide the FLSP Program funding; however, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will administer the program. This Notice will refer to FSA and AMS jointly as USDA.

Eligible candidates for the grant, including agricultural fixed-site employers, joint employers, agricultural associations, or H-2A labor contractors, have a higher chance of success if they hire H-2A workers from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. Recruitment from these countries is essential for Silver and Platinum-level awards, which offer grants up to $2 million. The Grady Firm works closely with The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides US companies with free recruitment services for workers from El Salvador.

Project Types and Award Levels

The FLSP includes three award levels, with increasing funding levels that reflect a higher level of commitment to working conditions for farmworkers. Baseline Award projects entail a minimal level of commitment. By committing to additional employee benefits and protections, applicants may submit a more competitive Silver or Platinum application for a higher award. Beyond the essential public goods supported by Baseline Award projects, the Silver and Platinum Award projects offer meaningful improvements to working conditions for agricultural workers, further supporting food and agriculture supply chain resiliency. Table 1 lists the range of award amounts based on the desired award level and the total number of full-time equivalent (FTEs) agricultural workers employed by the applicant (and sub-awardees).

Table 1. Award structure, based on FTEs and applicant commitment level.

To be eligible for the Baseline award, as well as the higher Silver and Platinum award levels, applicants must demonstrate their ability to meet all the baseline program requirements.

Additional Information on Eligibility:

Eligible applicants include domestic agricultural employers who:

1) anticipate meeting all Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulatory requirements for the H-2A program, including demonstrated effort to effectively recruit U.S.-based workers and hire all willing, able, and qualified U.S. workers; and

2) commit to, and indicate capacity to fulfill all Baseline Requirements, as well as any selected (elective) worker benefits and protections outlined in Supplemental Employee Commitments sections of the NFO. This includes fixed-site employers, joint employers, agricultural associations, and H-2A labor contractors.

Time is of the Essence!

Because preparation for this grant includes registering with various government portals and preparing a detailed application which can take several weeks, interested companies should get started as soon as possible. The Grady Firm has successfully prepared H-2A visa applications, and can assist you with getting started on the grant application. We can provide introductions to recruit the types of workers needed for the Silver and Platinum level awards.

To learn more about ensuring your business is compliant with state and local laws, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (949) 798-6298; or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.


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