The Agriculture Department has announced two new grant programs for certain commodities largely left out of the agency’s previous COVID-19 financial assistance programs.

USDA is allotting $650 million for the Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant program, which will help small-scale specialty-crop producers and processors, other select producers, meat and other processors, distributors, and farmers markets. Grants will be capped at $20,000. The money can be used for a variety of needs, including personal protective equipment and the cost of retrofitting facilities. 

Another $50 million is earmarked for the Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block (SPRS) to support seafood processors and processing vessels.

“The funding associated with USDA Pandemic Assistance is meant to serve as a bridge from disruptions associated with the pandemic to longer-term investments to help build back a better food system,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a USDA release on the announcement. “Financial relief to these essential producers, distributors, processors and other small agricultural businesses is critical to get our food system back on track.”

The grants, funded through the fiscal 2021 spending bill passed in December, will be used to offset pandemic-related costs incurred between Jan. 27, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2021, according to each grant's official online portal for applications.  

USDA said it will publish requests for applications soon. The PRS grant is estimated to be due on Nov. 8, according to its online listing. The SPRS grant is estimated to be due on Nov. 22.

For more news, go to