UMOS will help 75,000 farm workers, meat packers nationwide, more than 14,000 in Wisconsin

The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded 15 nonprofits more than $600 million in Farm and Food Worker Assistance Program grants to help farm workers, meat packers and grocers nationwide with direct relief payments related to COVID-19. United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS), headquartered in Milwaukee, will receive $56,886,475 to implement the program in 13 states, according to a UMOS press release.

A one-time direct payment of $600 will be made to more than 75,000 eligible applicants nationwide over a two-year period. In Wisconsin, UMOS plans to distribute more than $8.9 million in debit cards to more than 10,000 eligible farm workers (including dairy farmers) and about 4,800 meat packers statewide, says the press release.

“We commend the USDA for allocating direct relief payments to eligible farmworkers, meatpackers, and frontline grocers to help cover costs associated with past or ongoing purchases of personal protective equipment and other expenses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic such as testing, quarantine, vaccinations, child care expenses and other reasonable and necessary personal, family and/or living expenses,” said Lupe Martinez, President and CEO of UMOS.

Farm workers, meat packers and grocers have been federally classified as “essential workers” during the pandemic.

UMOS will provide services directly in Wisconsin, Illinois, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Missouri and Texas. UMOS plans to partner with other nonprofits in Florida, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana and Nebraska to identify eligible workers and help with the application process. Any farm worker or meat packer who has earned at least $1 in farm work, has the proper documentation and proof of identity can apply.

UMOS and its partners will educate agricultural workers, meatpackers and their employers, accept and process applications, collect verification, determine eligibility and issue payments. UMOS will maintain stringent financial controls to ensure funds reach eligible workers and will use an elaborate database system to avoid duplication of payments for those migrating and working in multiple states.

“We are especially pleased to see frontline agricultural workers recognized for their contributions to the national workforce and the food supply chain. Often they are overlooked in federal agricultural relief efforts,” Martinez said.

For more information about the Farm and Food Worker Assistance Program and eligibility requirements, call UMOS at 833-758-2004.

According to a recent survey of over 1,000 American adults, 70% of people consider themselves meat lovers.


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