DOL providing $90 million in farmworker training grants

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced $90 million in grants are available for farmworker training and career services but some in the agricultural industry say the efforts are misdirected.

National Council of Agricultural Employers President Michael Marsh calls the program ironic.

“We are in the midst of an ag labor shortage in the United States and actually been in it for quite some time,” he says. “And the total number of foreign workers that we’re having to recruit to come in and take some of the domestic jobs just continues to increase.”

The Department says the funding is meant to increase farmworker access to agriculture jobs or jobs in other industries.

Marsh tells Brownfield the DOL needs to look more holistically at the needs in agriculture and its impact from continually increasing H-2A guest worker costs.

“Unfortunately, this year many more farms and ranches will say, you know, I just can’t afford to stay in business here in the U.S.,” he says.

State governments and others can apply for the National Farmworker Jobs Program for grants ranging between $70,000 to $8 million through May 3rd.

The DOL tells Brownfield the program has been in existence for more than 50 years to prepare farmworkers for family-sustaining careers in and out of the agricultural sector. The grants are not designed to or able to offset farmers’ or other employers’ labor costs.

The DOL says it also plans on making a separate announcement on available housing funding for farmworkers.

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