TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma announced on Monday, May 1, it will administer a USDA farm and food workers relief program.
According to the nation, it is among 15 governments or agencies across the United States chosen by the USDA to administer the Farm and Food Workers Relief Program.
The tribe also said it will act as a 'pass-through' agency to distribute the federal relief funding to eligible participants.
To be eligible to receive a one-time $600 relief payment, applicants must be frontline workers who performed paid farming, agricultural, and meatpacking work within the period of January 27, 2020, through April 10, 2023. The relief payment is intended to defray costs for reasonable and necessary personal, family, or living expenses related to the pandemic.
The Cherokee Nation will distribute the $41 million in federal relief payments through an online application to help the eligible farm and food workers affected by the pandemic, with priority given to members of federally-recognized tribes across the nation.
“There may be as many as six million Natives who are eligible for this relief payment, and as a tribe we know how tough the pandemic has affected Native families and hope those eligible will apply for these funds to help continue with recovery and rebuilding,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.
The nation will have a period of two years to distribute the direct relief, which is not a renewable or annual benefit. Once a worker has been verified as eligible, the worker will receive the one-time $600 payment to be released in a single financial transaction.
“Cherokee Nation recognizes the hard work that these frontline workers across the country perform, not only through the pandemic but every day, for the farm and food industry. It is our hope that this payment can relieve some of the financial burdens that these essential workers have experienced,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Chad Harsha.
The Farm and Food Workers Relief Grant Program provides approximately $665 million in Consolidated Appropriations Act funds to provide grants to state agencies, tribal entities, and nonprofit organizations with experience in providing support or relief services to farmworkers and meatpacking workers.
If funds remain, other eligible applicants will include affected workers within the Cherokee Nation Reservation regardless of citizenship in a federally recognized tribe.
Eligible participants can apply for the relief payment through Cherokee Nation’s FFWR site on Tuesday, May 2, 2023.