The U.S. Department of Labor has announced $9.1 million in grants to seven organizations through the National Farmworker Jobs Program to improve economic opportunities and combat chronic unemployment and underemployment for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families.

"Many farmworkers face significant barriers to stable employment, making life difficult for them and their families," said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. "Farmworkers contribute so much to the nation’s economy, often through seasonal or temporary work, and the grants awarded will open up new opportunities to find a long-term job."

Among those receiving grants is the Mississippi Delta Council for Farm Workers Opportunities in Clarksdale, Miss.

The grantees are expected to help farmworkers upgrade their agricultural job skills or acquire new skills in industries that offer higher wages and more stable employment. In addition, participants will receive supportive services such as transportation, nutrition, and child care, which remove barriers to farmworkers pursuing training and enable them to begin new careers.

The department is also continuing grant awards, totaling $70.3 million, to National Farmworker Jobs Program grantees that performed successfully during the previous grant period. Of this amount, $64.9 million is being awarded to 45 organizations to provide career training, employment and support services. The remaining $5.38 million will be provided to 17 organizations for housing assistance grants, which helps to meet a critical need for the availability and quality of farmworker housing and supports better economic outcomes for farmworkers and their families.

The National Farmworker Jobs Program is authorized by Congress in Section 167 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, and grants are allocated through a formula that estimates the number of eligible workers in each state or territory. The grants cover a two-year period but are funded on an annual basis. The awards are for July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014. Second year allocations will be dependent on the funds available through the fiscal year 2014 appropriations process and on grantees' compliance with current and future departmental guidance.

For more information on the National Farmworker Jobs Program, including a list of current grantees, see here.