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Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Grant Program

Farmworkers picking strawberriesIn September 2023, USDA announced that agricultural employers can begin to apply for a new grant program focused on addressing labor shortages in agriculture, reducing irregular migration through expansion of legal pathways, and improving labor protections for farmworkers. The grant program will use up to $65 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to provide support for agricultural employers in implementing robust labor standards to promote a safe, healthy work environment for both U.S. workers and workers hired from Northern Central American countries under the seasonal H-2A visa program. 

To view the complete list of awardees, please visit the FLSP awardee webpage.

The program aim to improve the resiliency of our food and agricultural supply chain and advance several major

Administration priorities: 

  • Driving U.S. economic recovery and safeguarding domestic food security by addressing current labor shortages in agriculture. Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, agricultural employers were struggling to secure a stable workforce. The pandemic has only exacerbated this problem, threatening our domestic capacity to produce a safe and robust food supply. This pilot program will help address this shortage by expanding the potential pool of workers.
  • Reducing irregular migration through the expansion of legal pathways. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken numerous steps to address the elevated levels of irregular migration from Northern Central America. The H-2A visa program offers a lawful pathway for individuals from these countries to come to the United States to engage in temporary or seasonal agricultural work. An effective H-2A visa program is critical to the resiliency of the food and agricultural supply chain. This pilot program will aim to address challenges that both workers and employers face in utilizing the program.
  • Improving working conditions for farmworkers. Strong working conditions are critical to the resiliency of the food and agricultural supply chain. Through this pilot program, USDA will support efforts to improve working conditions for both U.S. and H-2A workers and ensure that H-2A workers are not subjected to unfair recruitment practices.

Eligibility

Eligible employers included fixed-site employers, joint-employers, agricultural associations, and H-2A labor contractors. Eligibility for this competitive grant program was limited to domestic agricultural employers who anticipate meeting all regulatory requirements for the H-2A program and commit to fulfill all baseline requirements, as well as any supplemental commitments that entail additive worker benefits and protections.

The FLSP offers no-cost technical assistance to all applicants. More information is available on the FLSP Technical Assistance webpage.

More information about eligibility, the application process, and award amounts can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/flsp.

Virtual Listening Sessions

FSA gathered input to help shape the new grant program. As part of gathering input, FSA held three virtual listening sessions, geared toward specific audiences in September 2022. Recordings of the listening sessions can be found below.

FSA also considered written comments received in the Federal Register. Find more details in the Sept. 21 notice on the Federal Register. The deadline for written comments was Oct. 24.

Agricultural Employer Organizations

FSA sought input on:  

  • Challenges that employers face in securing a stable workforce. 
  • The set of incentives employers seek from USDA in order to improve their ability to hire workers from northern Central American countries under the seasonal H-2A visa program.  
  • The labor standards that will make meaningful progress towards ensuring a safer and fairer working environment for both domestic and H-2A farmworkers.  

View Agricultural Employer Organization Listening Session

Labor Unions and Farmworker Advocacy Community

From both groups, FSA sought input on:

  • Barriers or challenges faced by farmworkers, specifically those from northern Central American countries participating in the H-2A visa program.
  • Recommendations to enhance farmworker protections and to increase farmworker awareness of resources and worker rights. 

View Labor Union Listening Session

View Farmworker Advocacy Community Listening Session

United Farm Workers Report

The United Farm Workers (UFW) was contracted to conduct and prepare a report to help design this grant program. The recommendations detailed in the report reflect intensive interactions by UFW with representatives of farm worker-serving organizations, labor unions, and agricultural employers.

View the United Farm Workers Recommendations to USDA on the Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Program 

H-2A Visa Program 

Are you a farmer who needs seasonal or temporary workers for planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops but domestic workers are in short supply? Learn more

Resources