NSAC's Blog

COVID Relief Funding NOW Available for Farmers Markets, Processors and Underserved Farmers

October 6, 2021

Photo credit: Laura James from Pexels

With farmers pulling long hours at the height of harvest season, and cases of the coronavirus skyrocketing across the country, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now providing additional funding to help many in our food and farm supply chains who were left out of previous aid programs.

As of October 6, USDA is now accepting applications for its Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant Program and will be doling out more than $650 million in aid to food processors, distributors, farmers markets, and producers who have been impacted by the pandemic. The deadline for submitting applications is by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, November 22, 2021.

Read on to see if this program is right for you or those in your community. More details can be found at the USDA’s PRS portal. 

Who is eligible?

PRS funding is available for food processors, distributors, farmers markets, food hubs, and producers that meet the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) “small business” size standards, as well as non-profit organizations, both those with 501(c)3 status and non-profits with other IRS designations. This includes small-scale diversified and specialty crop producers, produce distribution companies, meat processors and distributors, food hubs, and farmers markets.

All farmers markets are considered “small”. For all other businesses, check to see if you meet the Small Business criteria here. (Note: you will need to know your 6 digit NAICS code. If you don’t know which NAICS code to select, visit census.gov). Food hubs that sell into multiple market channels (i.e.- wholesale and direct to consumer,) should use the “Merchant Wholesaler, Nondurable Goods” NAICS set of codes. If the food hub is marketing a mix of items (fresh produce, manufactured goods, animal products, etc.), in other words, not just fresh produce, they can either choose the predominant merchant category (e.g., mostly fresh fruit and vegetables,) or apply under “Other grocery and related products”. 

More details on eligibility can be found on AMS’s eligibility portal. AMS has also developed an online video discussing program eligibility that can be viewed here.

How to apply

  1. If you think you might be eligible for funding, and are interested in applying, first verify your eligibility here
  2. If you are eligible, then register for your DUNS number here (if you don’t already have one), you must have a DUNS number in order to submit an application. While it should only take less than 5 minutes to complete your DUN application, it can take up to 5 business days to receive your DUNS number, so do not wait until the last minute! An AMS video tutorial on applying for a DUNS number is available here.
  3. Finally, once you have verified that you are eligible and received a DUNS number, click here to complete USDA’s online PRS application by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, November 22, 2021.

A video tutorial providing an overview of the application process can be found here.

What costs are covered?

Costs incurred between January 27, 2020 and December 31, 2021 to respond to and protect workers against the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are eligible for reimbursement. These include costs to:

  • Implement workplace safety measures to protect workers against COVID-19 (such as personal protective equipment, thermometers, cleaning supplies, sanitizer, hand washing stations)
  • Pivot markets to protect workers against COVID–19 (such as developing online platforms)
  • Retrofit facilities for worker and consumer safety (such as installing protective barriers, heat lamps, fans, tents, etc.)
  • Provide additional transportation options to maintain social distancing for workers and consumers
  • Provide housing that protects workers against COVID-19
  • Provide health services to protect workers against COVID-19

Funding requests may range from $1,500 to $20,000. Funding requests can also include staff time associated with keeping workers safe such as, but not limited to, planning and execution of market pivots, like drive through farmers markets, pre-order systems, and online platforms; as well as added staffing for security and crowd management necessary to comply with mask mandates and capacity limits. 

Receipts are not required at the time of application however you should maintain sufficient documentation and records, such as receipts, to demonstrate costs were incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the eligible expense category, as USDA will be conducting spot checks of the program.

For a more detailed list of eligible costs, refer to the Program Information included on AMS’s PRS portal.

Deadline to apply

USDA began accepting applications on October 6, 2021. Applicants have 45 days to apply. All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, November 22, 2021. Funding will not be awarded on a “first come, first served” basis so applicants need not rush to submit their applications. However, USDA will not accept late applications under any circumstances, so it is advisable that applicants submit their applications early if possible.

Additional Resources

Stay tuned for additional resources from NSAC and our partners on this new funding opportunity! In the meantime, check out these helpful resources from USDA:

If you have questions about applying or obtaining a DUNS number, contact USDA’s Application Help Desk by phone at (301) 238-5550 or by emailing usda.ams.prs@grantsolutions.gov. The Help Desk hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM ET.

Si tiene preguntas sobre cómo solicitar u obtener un número DUNS, comuníquese con el Servicio de asistencia de solicitudes del USDA por teléfono al (301) 238-5550 o envíe un correo electrónico a usda.ams.prs@grantsolutions.gov. El horario de atención de la mesa de ayuda es de lunes a viernes, de 9:00 a. M. A 9:00 p. M., Hora del Este.

Recursos Adicionales (Recursos en Español) 

El programa de subvencion para respuestas y seguridad ante pandemias (PRS por sus siglas en inlgés) proporciona fondos para procesadores de alimentos, distribuidores, mercados agrícolas y productores para responder al Coronavirus, incluidas medida para proteger a los trabajadores contra el nuevo Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

AMS ha preparado recursos en español para solicitantes de habla hispana.  

Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers, Carousel, Coronavirus, General Interest, Grants and Programs, Local & Regional Food Systems, Marketing and Labeling

One response to “COVID Relief Funding NOW Available for Farmers Markets, Processors and Underserved Farmers”

  1. Ankur Sharma says:

    Funding will be provided to farmers who suffer from the same challenges as the farmers in the video. The program is open to all farmers, and there are no income requirements for this program. Interested applicants should apply online today to receive funding before the program ends.