November 8, 2011
Today, Tuesday November 8, USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO) released a request for comments on an interim rule regarding the Agricultural Career and Employment (ACE) Grants Program. The ACE grants program is intended to improve the supply of skilled agricultural workers and bring greater stability to the workforce in this sector. The purpose of this rule is to establish regulations governing the grants program, including eligibility, application, evaluation, award and post-award administration of grants.
The program grants authority to the Secretary of Agriculture to administer grants to assist agricultural employers and farmworkers by improving the supply, stability, safety, and training of the agricultural labor force. Such grants may be made to eligible entities for use in providing services to assist farmworkers who are citizens or otherwise legally present in the United States in securing, retaining, upgrading, or returning from agricultural jobs.
Currently, $4 million in funding is available to the program from prior year appropriations. No funding, however, was made available by Congress in FY 2011 and none is expected in the FY 2012 agricultural appropriations bill that is expected to be finalized next week.
The training and services offered through the ACE grants program will benefit growers by contributing to the establishment of a more skilled pool of workers. Farmworkers who undergo the training and services offered through the program should have enhanced employment opportunities, with the prospect of obtaining better paying positions on the farm and expanded job opportunities due to their improved skills. Since hired farm laborers will have greater incentive to remain in agriculture, they will be less likely to leave farm work for other occupations, leading to increased stability within the agricultural sector.
Comments on the interim rule must be received by the agency on or before December 8, 2011 to be assured of consideration.
To submit comments on the interim rule, please visit the Federal e-rulemaking portal and follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments may also be submitted to the program leader, Christine Chavez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include Regulatory Information Number (RIN) number 0503–AA49 in the subject line of the message.
For more information regarding the rule, such as comment submission, economic analysis, definitions, and eligibility requirements to obtain funding through ACE grants, please refer to the Federal Register posting.