Senator M. TERESA RUIZ
District 29 (Essex)
Senator NILSA I. CRUZ-PEREZ
District 5 (Camden and Gloucester)
Appropriates $5 million in federal funds to Department of Health for grants to farmers for purchase of protective health materials for farm workers.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning protective health materials for farm workers, and making an appropriation.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. There is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Health the sum of $5 million from a portion of those federal block grant funds allocated to the State from the federal “Coronavirus Relief Fund,” established pursuant to the federal “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” Pub.L.116-136, for use by the department to provide financial assistance in the form of grants to an owner or operator of a farm for the purchase of personal protection equipment to be provided to farm workers at that farm to protect against the COVID-19 virus. The Commissioner of Health may also, at the commissioner’s discretion, provide grants for the purchase of other items or materials that would improve the health and safety of farm workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
b. The Department of Health shall provide notice on its Internet website of the availability of funding for the purchase of personal protection equipment, or other health and safety items or materials, for farm workers pursuant to this section. An owner or operator of a farm may apply for a grant in the form and manner prescribed by the department.
c. As used in this section:
“Farm worker” means any employee engaged to labor on a farm in the production, harvesting, and processing of agricultural products, and shall include any employee subject to the provisions of subsection d. of section 5 of P.L.1966, c.113 (C.34:11-56a4).
“Personal protection equipment” means equipment, such as gloves and masks, to minimize the spread of disease.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill makes a $5 million appropriation to the Department of Health from these federal block grant funds allocated to the State from the federal “Coronavirus Relief Fund,” established pursuant to the federal “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act,” Pub.L.116-136, for use by the department to provide grants to farmers for the purchase of personal protection equipment to be provided to farm workers to protect against the COVID-19 virus. The bill also provides the Commissioner of Health the discretion to provide grants for the purchase of items or materials, other than personal protection equipment, that would improve the health and safety of farm workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Block grant funds distributed to states from the federal “Coronavirus Relief Fund,” are to be used for costs associated with controlling the COVID-19 virus and mitigating the economic damage caused by the pandemic. Because of the rapidity of the spread of COVID-19, an outbreak among farm workers can not only endanger the health, livelihoods, and lives of the workers, but also cause significant immediate disruption of the State’s supply of food and other agricultural products and potentially damage the viability of the agricultural and food processing sectors of the State’s economy. This bill would provide assistance to owners and operators of farms to help ensure that the health of farm workers is protected and at the same time providing that one of the State’s critical industries can continue to function safely during this crisis.