- The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union released a statement Tuesday showing support for a new bill that would create a stabilization grant program for grocery, farm and food workers.
- Proposed by Sens. Sherrod Brown in the Senate and Rep. Nikki Budzinski in the House of Representatives, the legislation would allow Congress to provide support to food supply chain workers during emergencies, such as natural disasters.
- The bill comes as the industry continues to restabilize supply chains after the pandemic caused industry-wide disruptions and food shortages.
The newly introduced Grocery, Farm, and Food Worker Stabilization Act would help cover “disaster-related costs” for farm, grocery and meatpacking workers to protect food supply chains and prevent disruptions during those times, according to a press release from Brown.
The legislation is similar to the USDA’s “first of its kind” one-time grant program from 2021 that offered aid to supply chain workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the press release noted. The Farm and Food Workers Relief Grant Program helped these frontline workers with health and safety costs related to the pandemic and distributed nearly $680 million in competitive grant funding, per the press release.
The grant program proposed by Brown and Budzinski would be permanently available during disasters.
“Until now, there has not been a dedicated fund to safeguard essential workers during natural disasters,” UFCW President Marc Perrone said in a statement.
The legislation, if passed, would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the grant program and authorize the appropriation of $50 million. The bills have been referred to the respective House and Senate agriculture committees.
“The COVID-19 pandemic showed the fragility of our food system and shed light on the challenging conditions faced by our meatpackers and other frontline food workers,” Budzinski said in a statement. “As we continue to address supply chain concerns, I’m proud to be introducing bicameral legislation with Senator Sherrod Brown to ensure that our frontline food workers have the safety net they need when these tough and often dangerous jobs face crisis or disaster.”