Washington, D.C. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that nearly $40-million is available to provide housing for farmworkers and their families and despite budget uncertainties, the USDA remains focused on strengthening the rural economy.
"USDA's Farm Labor Housing Program is the only national source of construction funds to buy, build or improve housing for farmworkers, who are critical to the tremendous productivity of American agriculture," said Vilsack.
"This program is an important way that USDA helps to ensure the well-being of itinerant farm labor families. Looking ahead to the future, we will also continue to urge passage of common sense immigration reform that will create rules that work for farm workers and producers alike," he said.
Under the Farm Labor Housing Program, loans and grants are provided to farmers and other ag related groups to develop or improve multi-family housing facilities for farmworkers and their families.
For example, USDA provided Bienestar, a nonprofit organization in Hillsboro, Ore., a grant and loan to construct a 24-unit farmworker apartment complex.
The complex opened in December of last year providing new apartments for residents along with services such as English as a Second Language tutoring, and classes on computers, financial literacy, and nutrition.
Friday's announcement makes $30 million in loans, $8.5 million in grants, and $951,000 in rental assistance available to various farm groups for projects like these.
Applications for Farm Labor Housing assistance are due September 13. More information about how to apply is available in the August 14 Federal Register at www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-08-14/html/2013-19774.htm or by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office.
In Nebraska, applications should be submitted to USDA Rural Development, 100 Centennial Mall North, Room 308, Lincoln, NE 68508. Contact Linda Anders at (402) 437-5734 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secretary Vilsack said that today's announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs such as Farm Labor Housing loans and grants for rural America.
A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, Vilsack added, saying that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Bill done as soon as possible.