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Frequently Asked Questions

This page was updated October 23rd, 2020.

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General Program

New 10/23/2020 What are the deadlines for the FSFS program?

To be part of the 2020 program, your application must be received by 5 pm on Friday November 6, 2020. All paperwork including Grant Agreements, payment requests, and receipts must be received by 5:00 pm PST on Monday, November 16, 2020. 

New 9/22/2020 Have Field Sanitation rates changed?

Yes, field sanitation rates have changed. The FSFS program will now cover 75% of the cost for eligible purchased field sanitation units, additional servicing, and other costs associated with eligible rented field sanitation units. For additional detail see the Field Sanitation page

7/27/20 - Are farms that grow cannabis/marijuana eligible for assistance?

No, as this program is supported with federal funding and cannabis/marijuana is illegal at the federal level of government.

6/29/2020.  Question:  Are full service management companies eligible to apply?

Answer:  Full service management companies, who can certify they assume all aspects of farm management on behalf of the property owner, are eligible to apply for assistance.

6/29/2020.  Question:  I am a seafood processor, am I eligible for assistance through this program?

Answer:  No, assistance for the program is limited to agricultural establishments where employees do hand-labor operations in the field.  See the definition of hand labor operation in the OR-OSHA rule (https://osha.oregon.gov/OSHARules/div1/437-001-0749.pdf)

6/29/2020.  Question:  I am a livestock producer, am I eligible for assistance through this program?

Answer:  No, care and feeding of livestock are exempted from the OR-OSHA temporary rule.

6/29/2020.  Question:  My farm operates in two states.  Can I apply for assistance in a state other than Oregon?

Answer:  No, the FSFS program only provides assistance to producers operating in Oregon.

Question:  What is the Food Security and Farmworker Safety program?

Answer:  Oregon's Food Security and Farmworker Safety Program is designed to provide assistance to Oregon's agricultural producers and farmworkers to secure Oregon's food supply chain and protect essential agricultural workers from COVID-19 exposure and illness.

A total of $30 million in coronavirus relief funds have been made available for the program for housing assistance, field sanitation, transportation, and mitigation measures.

The goals of the Food Security and Farmworker Safety Program are to:

  • Deploy rapid support and resources to Oregon's agricultural producers. 
  • Reduce the potential for COVID-19 exposure, illness, and death associated with COVID-19 among agricultural workers and industry. 
  • Enhance the public health of the state and assist Oregon's agricultural industry to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The program includes $16 million for assistance to producers in complying with OR-OSHA temporary rules for agricultural worker housing, field sanitation, and transportation. The basic framework for assistance includes:
  • A maximum benefit of $20,000 to any one producer for Housing and Sanitation assistance throughout the 2020 harvest season (the cap may be modified if funds remain at the end of the program);
  • Housing modification material assistance;
  • On-farm alternative housing assistance;
  • Hotel/motel assistance;
  • Field sanitation assistance; and
  • Transportation assistance when necessary to provide additional physical distancing for employer provided transportation
Revised 6/29/2020. Question: Who is eligible to apply for assistance through the Food Security and Farmworker Safety Program?

Answer: Agricultural producers faced with additional costs to comply with the temporary OSHA requirements are eligible to apply. For this financial assistance program, an agricultural producer includes any person who leases, rents, manages as a full service management company, or owns land where crops are cultivated.  In addition, there are specific requirements for Housing and Transportation assistance. For Housing, the producer must have optimized available employer-provided housing and must maintain OSHA compliance. For Transportation, assistance is limited to employer-provided transportation.

Question:  What are the OR-OSHA temporary rules in place for housing, sanitation, and transportation?

Answer:  The OR-OSHA temporary rules are located:  https://osha.oregon.gov/OSHARules/div1/437-001-0749.pdf

For more information, including FAQs on the temporary rules, see the COVID-19 and Oregon OSHA website: https://osha.oregon.gov/covid19/Pages/default.aspx

Question:  In order to comply with OSHA's temporary rules, I have incurred housing or sanitation expenses.  How can I apply for the Food Security and Farmworker Safety program financial assistance?
Answer:  You can fill out an application for financial assistance here.  Please note that the following documents are required at time of application:

a) Copy of OSHA occupancy registration (if agricultural operation is required to be OSHA-registered)

b) W-9 (if requesting direct assistance)

c) Copy of hotel contract (if applicable)

Revised 6/29/2020. Question:  The OR-OSHA temporary rules were adopted on April 28, 2020, with an effective date of May 11, 2020, and enforcement of the rules June 1, and I was proactive in securing additional housing, sanitation, and/or transportation in order to comply with the rules.  Can I request assistance for these costs?
Answer:  Yes, producers may apply for financial assistance for eligible receipts dated back to March 27, 2020, which is when the draft rule was announced. An example would be materials purchased to make temporary modifications to existing housing. However, for those items that are only used during a certain time frame like toilets, reimbursement will be based on when the item was used and for how long.  For example, a producer who became aware of the temporary OSHA rules in late April and purchased additional portable toilets on May 1 to be in compliance with the rules would be eligible to apply for assistance for monthly usage beginning on June 1, 2020 for the length of the time the toilet is needed for field workers.

Question: Can labor contractors apply for funding under this program?
Answer: Labor contractors should submit invoices to producers that specify additional costs incurred to meet the temporary OSHA rule, which may include additional miles traveled, additional toilets rented, etc. Producers will then submit those invoices for funding assistance under the field sanitation and transportation elements of the program. Similarly, producers will work directly with hotels and sanitation companies to have those companies provide invoices to the producer, who can then submit for assistance through the program.

Question:  Will there be audits associated with this program?
Answer: The State reserve the right to conduct audits on the program, including the right to confirm payroll records.

Question:  What are the reporting requirements for producers in accepting this funding?
Answer:  The information collected and approved by OWEB at the time of application and/or request for payments is sufficient for reporting purposes. However, the State reserves the right to request additional information for verification and auditing functions.

Question:  How quickly can I expect to be reimbursed?
Answer:  We will make every effort to reimburse as quickly as possible, typically within four weeks.  If you are expecting assistance and have not yet received it, please email FSFSQuestions@oregon.gov.

Question:  Is the State assistance taxable income?
Answer:  Individual circumstances may differ, please contact your tax advisor.

Housing

7/29/20 - To provide more housing for farmworkers, I'm using a house or apartment that I could have rented out to the public during the FSFS period of use. Am I eligible for FSFS financial assistance?

This type of housing is considered "Temporary alternative housing", and is eligible for reimbursement at a rate up to $350 per occupancy unit/month when invoices are provided. In addition to an invoice, there must be documentation that the housing has been listed as a rental. The housing can be "on farm" or off site.

7/27/20 - The application states on-farm housing should be optimized for use and space, what does that mean?

Eligible assistance is designed to support agricultural workers who traditionally have relied on employer provided housing and have been displaced due to COVID related mitigation efforts. The application states producers should optimize their on-farm housing prior to seeking assistance with alternative housing and hotel/motel options. This is to prevent an instance of an employer from shifting the entire traditionally housed workforce into a different housing situation. Optimization of on-farm housing will not disqualify for assistance but will be used to determine eligible expenses for assistance.

6/30/20 - If growers make purchases for alternative forms of housing and a waiver/variance is required by OSHA, will growers still be reimbursed for those purchases if the housing is ultimately not allowed because the variance wasn’t granted?

We are not able to reimburse for housing that is not OSHA-compliant, but it is important to know that growers may apply for the program while they are working through the process with OSHA. OSHA has committed to providing producers with timely assistance on these questions. Staff at their regional offices are available for consultation.

6/30/20 - Does the program pay for additional cleaning supplies and labor for farmworker housing?

No. We understand that extra costs associated with the cleaning provisions are significant. However, cleaning supplies and labor associated are not eligible.

Revised 6/30/20 - After reviewing the temporary OR-OSHA rules, I will need to make adjustments for farmworker housing. What types of housing adjustments are eligible for assistance?

Eligible types of housing assistance include:

  1. Modifying existing housing
    Materials purchased for temporary modifications are eligible for reimbursement when materials were purchased on or after March 27, 2020 because that is when the draft OR-OSHA rule was made public.
  2. Alternative on-site housing
    When a producer secures alternatives to on-site housing that are still located on the farm to meet the OR-OSHA temporary housing rule. Alternative on-site housing could include options such as modular trailers, RVs, tents or other OSHA-approved alternatives.
  3. Hotel/motel assistance
    When a producer provides OR-OSHA-compliant housing to a farm worker who has been displaced by reduced occupancy levels by securing a hotel or motel room.

6/10/20 - What are the assistance rates for eligible types of alternative housing?

Funding for alternative housing is limited to the difference between the number of beds allowed under the OR-OSHA temporary rules for occupancy and the number of farmworkers who are employed by the producer.

  1. Modifying on-site housing
    One-time payment of up to $100/per actual occupancy provided is allowed for temporary modifications on existing or temporary housing to comply with the OR-OSHA rules (must provide receipts). For example, a producer can typically house 20 workers. OSHA temporary rules now limit that to 12. Farmer does modifications to return the number to 18. The producer can be provided up to $600 of assistance.
  2. Alternative on-site housing
    Monthly assistance for temporary on-farm housing to $350/per occupancy unit provided. Examples include modular trailers, tents, RVs, and other housing that meets OR-OSHA rules (must provide receipts). Include additional toilet rentals for housing requirements. As an example, if a farmer could typically house 20 workers and can now only house 12, but they rent additional housing for 6 workers, they can receive up to $2,100 of monthly of monthly alternative on-site housing assistance.
  3. Hotel/motel assistance
    When hotel/motel rooms are secured as a housing option, assistance will be provided at the government rate. As an example, if 2 workers are housed in a hotel then those receipts can be submitted and government rate will be reimbursed. Please see the rate list.

The assistance options above may also be combined. For example, a producer has a traditional OR-OSHA occupancy rate for 10 beds. Under the temporary OR-OSHA rules, the occupancy rate has been reduced to 5 beds. The producer hires 10 farmworkers and rents a mobile office trailer unit to provide OR-OSHA compliant, temporary, alternative on-site housing and portable sanitation for 5 additional occupancies. The producer is eligible for:

  1. A one-time payment of up to $100 for each modification for occupancy provided;
  2. A monthly payment of up to $350 for each occupancy unit (and associated portable sanitation) provided.

This equates to a maximum reimbursable amount of up to:

  • $500 one-time modification payment ($100 modification/occupancy x 5 occupancies provided = $500), or
  • $1,750 monthly payment ($350/occupancy x 5 occupancies and associated portable sanitation provided x 1 month = $1,750)

6/10/20 - Are there specific hotels/motels that I can contact for this program?

Any hotel/motel is eligible for the Food Security and Farmworker Safety program (assistance is only within established rates). If you are a producer and need assistance finding hotels/motels, please contact FSFSQuestions@oregon.gov. If you are a farm worker and need assistance finding hotels/motels, please contact Oregon Human Development Corporation (OHDC) at 1 (855) 215-6528. Someone bilingual will answer the phone and housing support will be culturally responsive.

6/10/20 - Do I need to make reservations or hold hotel/motel rooms, or have these already been held by the State of Oregon?

Producers are responsible for securing hotel/motel arrangements that best meet their needs. If you are a producer and need assistance finding hotels/motels, please contact FSFSQuestions@oregon.gov.

6/10/20 - What documents will I need to provide in order to qualify for assistance for housing costs?

To receive assistance for eligible housing costs, producers should be prepared to provide the following documentation:

  1. Modifying existing housing
    Receipts for materials for temporary modifications due to the OR-OSHA rule are eligible. Receipts dated back to April 28, 2020 may be submitted.
  2. Alternative on-site housing
    Applicable rental contracts or agreements for costs incurred for renting OR-OSHA temporary rule-compliant alternative housing. If the alternative housing was secured through other means, please contact FSFSQuestions@oregon.gov to discuss what documents should be provided.
  3. Hotel/motel assistance
    Provide hotel/motel invoices that show the number of rooms provided, the duration of stay, and the associated cost.

6/10/20 - I am a farm worker. Are there any housing options that I can directly access?

Yes, farm workers can directly access the $8.5 million COVID-19 Farmworker and Landscaper Rental Relief Fund or the $3.5 million Safe Sheltering Fund available through Oregon Human Development Corporation (OHDC). This includes hotel/motel vouchers for agricultural workers and their families. Contact 1 (855) 215-6528 to get assistance. Bilingual-bicultural staff will answer the phone and provide support with housing needs.

6/10/20 - Will Oregon OSHA provide blanket exemptions from the rules to allow flexible housing options to address the risk of COVID-19?

Oregon OSHA was asked to consider several specific issues regarding the existing rules and addressed those requests in the same May 8 memorandum that delayed enforcement of all new provisions of the rule until June 1, 2020. The memo itself can be found at https://osha.oregon.gov/OSHARules/adopted/2020/ao2-2020-enforcement-delay-memo.pdf.

In relation to eave height, the memo waives enforcement of the existing requirements, declaring that “Oregon OSHA will not be enforcing the ceiling height requirements that took effect January 1, 2018 but instead will allow growers to once again (and temporarily) count space with a ceiling height between 5 and 7 feet toward as much as 50% of the required square footage.”

In relation to the placement of beds in common areas, the memo states that “Oregon OSHA will allow placement of beds in what would otherwise be common rooms provided that exit routes are not obstructed and the beds are not placed in close proximity to cooking facilities. The other requirements of the temporary rule in relation to bed placement will still need to be maintained, but we will relax enforcement of the 100 square foot requirement if the reason for the bed placement is to remove them from sleeping areas in the same facility.

In relation to the use of recreational vehicles, the memo states, “In addition to the explicit provisions in the rules related to manufactured housing, we will allow the use of Recreational Vehicles and travel trailers on the housing operator’s site, provided that the vehicles are used to house related individuals and that they are not used to house individuals beyond the sleeping capacity indicated by the vehicle manufacturer.” This effectively provides a waiver to the square footage requirements when such vehicles are used (the permanent rule does not actually prohibit them, but because they generally do not provide sufficient square footage they are usually not considered to be practical alternatives).

The same memo notes that the rule itself states that it “will not apply to hotel or motel space that is offered in the same condition it would be to the general public if the facility were operating…” and that “the rule will not apply to housing provided by someone other than the employer specifically to respond to a public health emergency (even if is provided as a condition of employment and would otherwise be subject to the rule).”

In subsequent discussions, Oregon OSHA has also indicated that provisions such as the elevation of wood floors, the requirements for screens, and the need for exit windows can all be handled with flexibility in order to enable appropriate housing alternatives to be considered. For example, the use of air conditioning in a repurposed modular construction trailer would eliminate the need to enforce requirements related to screens, and the availability of a second doorway in such a trailer would also eliminate the need to have a window suitable for use as an exit. However, because such decisions are situation-specific and dependent upon other factors (as in the examples provided), Oregon OSHA cannot provide a “blanket waiver” of the applicable requirements.

Similarly, if concerns about other specific rule provisions are raised, Oregon OSHA can consider either an enforcement waiver, either on a blanket or (more likely) on a conditional basis.

Field Sanitation

9/21/20 - Is any assistance available for face coverings?

Yes. The FSFS program is now providing payment for face coverings when receipts are provided. Face coverings are proven to help limit the spread of COVID 19, and the temporary OR-OSHA rule requires that farmworkers wear face coverings when using employer-provided transportation and/or in situations where physical distancing is not possible. On July 15, 2020, Governor Brown began requiring all Oregonians to wear face coverings when outdoors under circumstances where physical distancing is not possible. Once face coverings are available for farmworkers, their effectiveness depends on proper use. The FSFS program provides information and outreach materials.

7/27/20 - What face coverings are eligible through the FSFS program, and how can I access the funds?

Face coverings and face shields are eligible, at a limit of $10 per face covering/face shield. The receipt and a description of the type of face covering, cost per unit, and total cost must be provided with the request for payment. The date on the receipt must be March 27, 2020 or later. Additional receipts for face coverings in excess of $1,000 should be retained and submitted as additional financial assistance may be possible at the conclusion of the FSFS program based on remaining funds.

Revised 6/29/2020. Question:  After reviewing the OR-OSHA temporary rules, I will need to provide additional field sanitation for workers on my farm. Is assistance available to help provide field sanitation?

Answer:  Yes, the Food Security and Farmworker Safety program provides field sanitation assistance to producers for both rented and purchased field sanitation units.

Revised 9/21/2020. Question:  What are the rental assistance rates for eligible types of field sanitation?

Answer: The FSFS Program can provide financial assistance for all costs associated with eligible rented field sanitation units, including handwashing stations and portable toilet stations, necessary for compliance with the Temporary OR-OSHA Rule.

Revised 9/21/2020. Question:  If I bought a field sanitation unit on or after March 27, 2020 in order to comply with the OR-OSHA temporary rule, am I eligible for assistance?

Answer: Yes, producers who purchased field sanitation units are eligible for 75% of the cost of eligible purchased field sanitation units, including handwashing stations and portable toilet stations, necessary for compliance with the Temporary OR-OSHA Rule for COVID-19.

Revised 9/21/20 - What about servicing for field sanitation units that were purchased for the 2020 harvest season to comply with OR-OSHA's temporary rules?

All additional servicing costs on all units (including the units traditionally provided, pre-COVID-19) that are necessary for compliance with the Temporary OR-OSHA Rule are eligible for financial assistance through the FSFS Program. “Additional" servicing is any service in addition to standard weekly service. Receipts showing the dates of servicing are required.

Revised 6/29/2020. Question:  What documents will I need to provide in order to receive assistance for field sanitation costs?

Answer:  Applicants/producers should be prepared to provide the following information/documentation for assistance:

  • An estimate of the peak number of employees expected
  • An estimate of the number of field sanitation stations needed over what would typically be provided based on the OR-OSHA temporary rule.  For example, if one sanitation unit was traditionally provided for 15 farmworkers, and the OR-OSHA temporary rules now require two sanitation units, a producer would qualify for assistance on the additional unit.
  • The duration of need
  • For rental units, an invoice from a sanitation company providing the units
  • For units purchased by the producer, the invoice of the purchased units dated between March 27, 2020 and October 25, 2020

Question:  I am attempting to secure additional field sanitation units, but my supplier is out of stock, what should I do?

Answer:  OR-OSHA expects the producer to show that they have tried to secure extra chemical portable toilets (or handwashing facilities). To demonstrate diligence would mean contacting more than just their current supplier. If a producer has made three good-faith contacts with different suppliers and could not secure additional chemical portable toilets by the June 1 deadline, this would demonstrate diligence.

Transportation

6/30/20 - I believe my expenses will exceed the cap on transportation ($1,000). Should I submit any travel logs or receipts documenting mileage above that amount

Yes, producers should submit any receipts that exceed the caps on housing/field sanitation and transportation. At the end of the program, if funds are available they will be distributed on a pro-rated basis to producers with excess expenses.

Updated 7/27/20 - What transportation costs are eligible for assistance?

Assistance based on vehicle mileage for additional travel related to the transportation of employees or vehicle rental. The mileage reimbursement rate will be determined by number of miles submitted and available funds not to exceed the current state travel rate. This rate is used for privately owned vehicles to capture the costs for insurance, gas, oil, maintenance, etc. Vehicle rental and contracted transportation services are also eligible when accompanied by a receipt and short description of need.

Updated 7/27/20 - How will the program provide transportation assistance?

Producers will apply through a two-step process, indicating their initial interest in Transportation assistance along with their application for Housing and/or Sanitation assistance. Producers using private vehicles will then need to maintain a mileage log documenting the additional miles driven which are necessary to comply with OR-OSHA’s temporary rules (mileage noted on receipts/invoices from labor contractors is also acceptable). Producers who rented vehicles or utilized contracted transportation services to comply with OR-OSHA’s temporary rules may also submit those receipts/invoices for assistance. Mileage logs should be kept between June 1, 2020 and October 25, 2020 with documents submitted by November 16, 2020. While there is a current cap of $1,000 for transportation assistance, at the conclusion of the program, additional assistance may be provided based available program funding.

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