OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has awarded more than $14 million in COVID-19 Relief and Recovery grants to 839 businesses impacted by the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic affected small agriculture businesses and local food supply chains in different ways, but WSDA identified four business sectors that faced additional challenges qualifying for financial assistance through earlier relief programs.
The WSDA Relief and Recovery grants, funded through a partnership with the Washington State Department of Commerce, are intended to assist small businesses in these four agriculture business sectors, including:
- shellfish growers
- farmers market organizations
- agritourism farms
- craft beverage producers
These grants will boost the Washington state agricultural industry, helping prevent business closures and supporting the health and diversity of Washington state’s overall economy,” WSDA Director Derek Sandison said. “Our economy needs the businesses in these four sectors to recover from the pandemic for the health of our economy as a whole.”
Ninety percent of shellfish in Washington is consumed in restaurants, when restaurants closed, Washington’s shellfish producers lost revenue. The grants will help these businesses purchase equipment, expand operations, keep staff employed, and pay rent.
The farmers market sector, which generates an estimated $60 million in sales to small businesses each year, dealt with restrictions at their events which led to reduced income from vendor fees, fewer shoppers, and the need to deploy resources toward ensuring public safety standards. Farmers market organizations plan to use the funds toward operating expenses, staffing, covering costs for COVID-19 requirements, and event promotion and educational activities.
Agritourism experiences are part of Washington farms and ranches business success. With the pandemic keeping people at home, visitor spending in Washington was down 47 percent in 2020. Agritourism businesses plan to use their grant funds toward expanding activities, and adapting their business to comply with guidelines and the costs associated with safety enhancements.
Pandemic restrictions forced Washington small craft beverage producers to close their doors, resulting in massive income loss. These grants will help producers pay their rent or mortgage, invest in materials, supplies and labor, while also working on keeping their staff employed.
The grants are being issued now with all businesses scheduled to receive their payments by mid-June. For more information, visit agr.wa.gov/grants.
— Washington State Department of Agriculture
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