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Biden administration addresses ag labor challengesBiden administration addresses ag labor challenges

New pilot program offers $65 million in grants to improve working conditions for farm labor.

Joshua Baethge

September 22, 2023

2 Min Read
Farm worker in field carrying basket of tomatoes
Getty Images/Wayne Eastep

The Biden administration unveiled a pilot program to address workforce challenges affecting farmers and ranchers. As part of its effort to improve agriculture supply chain resiliency, USDA and other federal agencies will award $65 million in grant funding through the Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Program. Those awards help producers improve working conditions for domestic and H-2A visa workers.

Program funding will come from the American Rescue Plan Act. It will be distributed through the Farm Service Agency and administered by the Agriculture Marketing Service and the Farm Production and Conservation Business Center.

Administration officials say the FLSP Program focuses on three key priorities:

  • Provide economic benefits by addressing labor shortages affecting the agriculture supply chain.

  • Addresses illegal immigration by providing more opportunities for foreign nationals to legally enter the country.

  • Offer financial incentives to improve working conditions for all farm workers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says workforce issues are jeopardizing the ability of farmers to be competitive. They are also threatening the resiliency and safety of the food system, which could lead to economic consequences.

Vilsack notes that record numbers of people, including many from northern Central American nations, want to live and work in the United States. He believes the FLSP Program will help producers better recruit and retain workers. At the same time, it offers new ways to promote accountability, improve working conditions, and facilitate safe and humane migration. In his eyes, that makes the program a “win for everyone along the agriculture supply chain from the field to the dinner table.”

“This pilot program has been designed with significant input from immigration, labor, and agricultural stakeholders in an effort to help address these immediate challenges,” Vilsack says. “The program will provide incentives designed to simultaneously benefit workers and employers, with the potential to inform the H-2A program, raise labor standards for farmworkers, and help alleviate our agricultural workforce challenges over the long term.”

Producers interested in the FLSP Program have until Nov. 28 to apply. If they meet eligibility requirements, they may receive grants of anywhere from $25,000 to $2 million.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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