NCAT to help producers access USDA Pandemic Response Safety Program

If you’re a small-scale farmer, food processor or distributor, or farmers market and have been financially impacted by Covid-19, you may be able to access up to $20,000 to recover costs related to the pandemic.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is helping food producers access these dollars through the USDA’s Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program. Applications will open in early October. Producers should get prepared for the application period now.

If you operate a small farm producing specialty crops whose annual revenue is less than $1 million, run a farmers market, food hub, community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, a small food processing business or food manufacturing operation, you may be eligible for grant funding.

“Food producers provide an essential service for our communities, and these small-scale producers have continued to operate during the pandemic to make sure all of us are fed,” NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson said. “NCAT is here to help food producers, processors and farmers markets access dollars to keep their doors open.” 

According to the USDA, the pandemic-related costs that are recoverable through this grant program relate to the following areas:

  • Workplace Safety: Implementing workplace safety measures to protect against COVID-19 such as providing personal protective equipment, thermometers, cleaning supplies, sanitizers, hand washing stations, installation and purchase of air filters or new signage.
  • Market Pivots: Implementing market pivots to protect against COVID–19.  Though not exactly well-defined market pivot are related to cost of changing how you had to operate your enterprise to make it more COVID-19 safe including the staff time to implement these changes. For example, a farmers’ market may have had to restructure their layout to ensure one-way traffic and improve social distancing.
  • Retrofitting Facilities: Retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety to protect against COVID–19 such as installation and purchase of protective barriers, walk up windows, heat lamps/heaters, fans, tents, propane, weights, tables chairs and lighting.
  • Transportation: Providing additional transportation options to maintain social distancing and worker and consumer safety to protect against COVID-19 such as securing additional transportation services for workers or establishing new delivery routed or distribution services. For instance, a food hub might have had to shift to delivering food directly to consumers rather than just having to have common distribution point.
  • Worker Housing: Providing additional worker housing resources or services to maintain social distancing or to allow for quarantining of new or exposed employees.
  • Medical: Providing health services to protect workers against COVID-19 including offering or enabling vaccinations, testing, or healthcare treatment of infected employees, including paid leave.

This is not a competitive grant program; grants will be awarded based on eligibility. Funding is not awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis, and the 45-day application period is anticipated to open in early October.

To be ready for the application, all applicants should obtain a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number. This DUNS number will be required to receive this grant. More information on how to obtain a DUNS number, plus full eligibility criteria can be found at the USDA’s website: https://usda-prs.grantsolutions.gov/usda.

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