State Sends COVID Relief to Essential Food and Agriculture Workers in California

Posted on Tuesday, April 28th, 2020 by Grace Perry
farmworkers harvest lettuce

On March 17th, the California Legislature approved emergency legislation authorizing over $1 billion to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Gavin Newsom then enacted the emergency financial package to acquire essential medical supplies and protect vulnerable populations, including essential frontline workers. Among the essential workers are those in the food sector including farmworkers, agricultural workers, and those working in grocery stores and fast food chains, and as delivery drivers. Over the past month, the Governor issued specific protections for this group, including an executive order declaring requisite workplace protections and additional financial resources that are not currently provided by the federal relief packages. Below, we detail the support for farmworkers and other food and agriculture workers to date. 

Childcare Services

On April 10, Governor Newsom released $100 million to expand state-subsidized child care for essential workers and support the child care services and child care providers of essential workers and vulnerable populations with protective supplies.

Paid Sick Leave 

The Governor’s April 16th Executive Order provides two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave to food sector workers if they are under quarantine, isolation order or medical directive as a result of COVID-19. 

Health and Safety Standards

The April 16th Executive Order also increases food sector worker and consumer protection by permitting workers at food facilities to wash their hands every 30 minutes, or as needed, to ensure proper sanitation procedures. 

Next Steps

As the pandemic continues to impact California agriculture and the food system, we continue to monitor and report on the state’s response to essential food workers and sectors. To learn more about accessing these funds, go to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s COVID-19 resource page for the agricultural sector with updates and guidelines. Below is a summary of the state’s COVID-19 response spending to date.

Allocation of COVID-19 funds for food and agriculture workers as of April 15, 2020. See the Department of Finance website for the most up-to-date expenditures.
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