State announces reimbursement program for expenses associated with quarantined farmworkers
RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — Employers that have farmworkers with valid H2A visas who must be quarantined during the 2021 growing season due to COVID-19 will be able to apply for assistance to offset quarantine expenses.
A total of $2 million will be available through the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services COVID-19 Farmworker Quarantine Reimbursement program. The N.C. General Assembly approved the funding for this aid program, which comes from federal COVID-19 funds earmarked for North Carolina.
“Farmworkers have always been critical to agriculture, but the pandemic has shown how essential a healthy workforce is to agriculture and our food supply,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler wrote in a news release. “While it is a priority for all farmworkers to get vaccinated, this program will enable employers to safely quarantine workers who test positive for COVID-19 and hopefully minimize spread to their coworkers and others.”
Under this program, employers that have farmworkers with valid H2A visas will be eligible for reimbursement of the cost of meals and lodging for the duration of the quarantine period, not to exceed the per diem rates for federal employees. The employer on record for the farmworker with a valid H2A visa may submit reimbursement request on behalf of any farmworker requiring to be quarantined following a positive test for COVID-19, provided the employer covered the initial eligible expenses out-of-pocket on behalf of the farmworker. The program will be for expenses incurred from March 11, 2021 through the 2021 growing season.
The application period will open on April 14 and will continue through Dec. 15, 2021 or until program funds are exhausted. These funds are provided through CARES Act funding and subject to any changes to the federal legislation.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in serious and substantial impacts on the food supply chain, including migrant farm labor in North Carolina. The H2A program is a critical component in planting and harvesting of North Carolina commodities. This program will help offset the financial burden of quarantine accommodations for workers that test positive for COVID-19 in off-site locations.