Budzinski Introduces Legislation to Secure Food Supply Chain, Support Food Workers   

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) introduced the Grocery, Farm and Food Worker Stabilization Act, bicameral legislation to protect food supply chains and prevent disruptions during disasters by providing support to cover disaster-related costs for farm, grocery and meatpacking workers. Companion legislation is being led in the U.S. Senate by Senators Sherrod Brown (OH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).

“The strength of our food supply chains depends on the support we provide to our grocery, farm and food workers,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “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. 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. I’m so grateful to have the support of my friends at the United Food and Commercial Workers in this important effort and I look forward to providing permanent protections to the folks who help to keep our families fed.”

“During a disaster, workers at grocery stores, farms and meatpacking plants are essential to making sure that Ohioans have access to safe food,” said Senator Brown. “This bill would help protect food supply chains and prevent disruptions and food shortages by making sure that workers stay safe on the job – even during the most difficult times.”

“Our members are on the front lines of our food supply chain, packing and processing meat, making sure that shelves are stocked, and helping customers get the food and goods they need to take care of their families. Their hard work is essential to the communities they serve and their dedication means they come in to work through hurricanes, snowstorms, and, as we saw, a worldwide pandemic,” said United Food and Commercial Workers International President Marc Perrone. “Until now, there has not been a dedicated fund to safeguard essential workers during natural disasters. We applaud Senator Brown and Representative Budzinski for introducing this vital legislation that will provide critical funding for essential work during times of crisis and strengthen America’s food supply chain over the long run.”

To keep our food chains running and communities fed during a future disaster, the Grocery, Farm and Food Worker Stabilization Act would create a permanent program that will allow Congress to provide support to frontline essential workers in emergencies.  

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) Grant Program to help farm, grocery, and meatpacking workers with pandemic-related health and safety costs. The first of its kind, the FFWR Grant Program distributed nearly $680 million in competitive grant funding to meat processing, grocery store, and farm workers for expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, FFWR was a one-time grant program. This legislation would make a similar program permanently available during disasters, including natural disasters.

In addition to introducing this legislation, Congresswoman Budzinski has also advocated for the highest possible funding of the Farm and Food Workers Relief (FFWR) Grant Program through the fiscal year 2024 House Appropriations process. 

The Grocery, Farm and Food Worker Stabilization Act is supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers. Full text of the legislation can be found here

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