RICHMOND—Farmers, farmers markets and other small-scale agricultural facilities negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic now can apply for a new round of U.S. Department of Agriculture funding.

Through Nov. 22, USDA is accepting applications for the Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program, which aims to help small businesses in the agricultural sector recoup costs associated with pandemic response.

Approximately $650 million will be available to small-scale crop producers, other select producers, meat and other processing facilities, distributors and farmers markets.

Applicants may request grants between $1,500 and $20,000, and funds will be issued for pandemic-related costs incurred between Jan. 27, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021. Cost sharing and matching funds are not required under program guidelines.

“Throughout the pandemic, Virginia producers, processing facilities and farmers markets took important steps to keep their businesses moving and keep employees and customers safe,” said Elijah Griles, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity specialist.

“The PRS grant program provides an opportunity for those businesses to offset some of the expenses that were incurred by implementing safety protocols, or by pivoting their marketing strategies to successfully navigate the pandemic.”

PRS funding can be used to cover costs associated with workplace safety, market pivots, retrofitting facilities, transportation of workers and goods, worker housing and medical services provided to workers.

Full program details, eligibility requirements and an online application can be accessed through the PRS web portal.

To help prospective applicants, the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability will host an informational webinar Nov. 9 at 1 p.m.

The webinar will help interested individuals through the application process, and will provide additional details about program eligibility. To register, contact Griles at elijah.griles@vafb.com or 804-357-0103.

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