The Biden administration has unveiled a new pilot program to improve agricultural workforce conditions. It’s called the Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Program. FLSP NFO (usda.gov) It is open to all agricultural employers.
“The program will spend up to $65 million in American Rescue Plan Acts to support 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.” Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Grant Program (usda.gov) Goals:
• To address farm labor shortages
• To reduce “irregular migration from Northern Central America” by increasing the possibilities for legal employment
• To improve working conditions for all farmworkers
The applications will go through the regular H-2A guestworker channels.
This is essentially a research program conducted by a “nonpartisan, third-party university partner selected by USDA.” Awardees are required to participate in the study.
“Findings will help inform employer best practices to attract and retain skilled employees for U.S. agricultural jobs, guide industry stakeholders and policymakers, and illuminate areas for necessary employer and employee support or technical assistance.” Awardees must “agree to grant access to their full agricultural workforce (or contractors) for the purposes of the survey.”
Grants will range from $25,000 to $2 million. They will be granted on the basis of the number of full-time employees and a three-tiered participation structure. The lowest is a “baseline” program, requiring simply that employers apply “all commitments . . . universally to all of the applicant’s agricultural employees.”
The “silver” and “platinum” bundles involve further requirements, such as recruitment through the appropriate ministries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador; overtime pay; clearly defined bonus payments; paid sick leave; “participation in a Worker-driven Social Responsibility (WSR) program”; and “participation in a collective bargaining agreement.”
Applicants will not necessarily have to fulfill all of these requirements. They should look to the USDA Notice of Funding Opportunity for more specific details. FLSP NFO (usda.gov)
The deadline for applications is November 28, 2023.