Milwaukee-based UMOS has been given a grant worth nearly $56.9 million from the United States Department of Agriculture to assist roughly 75,000 farm workers and meatpackers nationwide, including more than 14,000 in Wisconsin.
The grant includes a one-time payment of $600 to be paid to more than 75,000 eligible applicants nationwide within a two-year period, according to the announcement made Friday.
“We applaud USDA for appropriating direct relief payments for eligible frontline farmworkers, meatpackers, and grocery workers to help defray costs associated with previous or on-going purchases of personal protective equipment and other expenses incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic such as testing, quarantining, vaccinations, childcare costs and other reasonable and necessary personal, family and or living expenses,” said Lupe Martinez, president and CEO of UMOS.
Farm workers or meatpackers who made at least $1 in agricultural work, along with having the proper identification, are eligible to apply.
“USDA is committed not only to acknowledging the work of our nation’s essential agricultural and food workers, but also ensuring they are not left out of opportunities for relief from the effects of the pandemic,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “The grant recipients being announced today will help us provide relief payments to workers across the country who kept food moving to our families during an especially challenging time.”
Aside from Wisconsin, UMOS delivers services directly to workers in Illinois, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas. The organization also plans to partner with other non-profit organizations in Florida, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, and Nebraska to identify eligible workers and assist with the application process.
“We are especially happy to see frontline agricultural workers recognized for their contributions to the nation’s workforce and the food supply chain,” Martinez said. “Oftentimes they are overlooked in federal agricultural relief efforts.”
UMOS and its partners plan to outreach to employers of farm workers and meatpacking workers, accept and process applications, collect verification, determine eligibility, and issue payments.
UMOS says it plans to “maintain strong financial controls to ensure funds get into the hands of eligible workers and will use an elaborate database system to avoid payment duplication for those who migrant and work throughout several states.”
For more information on the Farm and Food Workers Relief Program and eligibility requirements call UMOS at 833-758-2004.