Florida gains CARES Act spend plan approval
Florida has become the latest U.S. state to gain approval for its CARES Act spend plan, allowing it to begin the application process to deliver aid to the seafood industry to offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The approval comes several months after the USD 300 million (EUR 253.7 million) in aid funding was approved in May. Florida represents the fourth-largest recipient of those funds, with the state receiving USD 23.6 million (EUR 19.9 million) in relief funding to be distributed among industry stakeholders.
The aid is sorely needed, according to the spend plan. The plan cites a study by the University of Florida, which found that the state’s commercial fishers have seen a 57 percent decrease in revenue compared to the previous year, and seafood wholesale dealers have experienced a 68 percent loss.
That decrease in revenue is a blow to the state overall, as the plan estimates that more that USD 12 billion (EUR 10.1 billion) in revenue is generated by the state’s salt-water fishing industry, with a direct impact by commercial harvesters of USD 437 million (EUR 369 million).
“The funding for this program is limited and will not negate the entirety of losses incurred by the fishing industry, nor individuals due to the pandemic. However, it is our hope that this assistance will mitigate some of the losses,” according to the plan.
Florida is whether applicants qualify for the aid in similar ways to most states, under the NOAA requirement that all businesses receiving funds must prove a greater than 35 percent loss of revenue due to COVID-19. The state has also already identified the number of potential applicants from each sector based on licensing data, with 6,952 potential applicants from commercial fishing, 1,447 from seafood wholesale dealers, 6,194 from charter-fishing businesses, and 430 from marine aquaculture businesses.
Commercial fishers will have landing data prepopulated on their applications, and will be required to provide data revenue for the past five years.
Unlike most other states, however, Florida has provided no calculation or estimate of what payments to individuals will look like.
“Funds will be dispersed on a prorated basis based upon individual’s losses. Therefore, a larger loss will equate to a larger relief payment,” the plan states.
What the size of that aid is based on, or how it is to be calculated, is left off the spend plan. If, for example, every single potential applicant is approved, and receives the same amount of funding, each applicant would receive roughly USD 1,560 (EUR 1,319) in aid.
The state has not said if there will be a minimum payment. However, it has committed to revealing the amount every individual is compensated after funding has been awarded.
Per the state’s timeline, payouts of the funding are expected to take place in December and January, with the final report on the funding to be completed by March 2021.
Photo courtesy of Jillian Cain Photography/Shutterstock