Oregon legislators urge USDA to make more West Coast seafood purchases

The office of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)
The office of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) | Photo courtesy of Katherine Welles/Shutterstock
4 Min

A group of U.S. senators and representatives from Oregon are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase government purchases of seafood originating from the West Coast.

The USDA made USD 52 million (EUR 48 million) in seafood purchases from the U.S. West Coast in 2022 at the legislators’ urging but, previous to that, had not requested Pacific Coast seafood in its commodity-purchasing programs, according to a letter sent to USDA Administrator Bruce Summers from U.S. senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and U.S. representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Val Hoyle, and Andrea Salinas 

“This change has proven essential, especially for Oregons smaller coastal communities that are continuing to recover from the devastating impacts spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, international conflicts, and many other factors,” according to a joint press release from the senators and representatives.

Commercial fishing and seafood processing on the U.S. West Coast “are significant contributors to the nations seafood production and agricultural economy,” the lawmakers wrote. The industry serves as the economic backbone for numerous small ports and rural coastal communities in Oregon. Fishing activities are deeply ingrained in the local culture and way of life across the Oregon Coast."

An influx of imported species and substitutes from other countries has “intensified competition in the domestic market, making it difficult for domestic producers to sell their inventory at desired prices,” the legislators wrote. 

“Specifically, rockfish and whiting harvesting and production has been subject to changing economic factors, such as changes in disposable income, unemployment rates, and consumer confidence that have impacted the demand for seafood products, leading to surplus inventory,” they said.

As a result, U.S. Pacific Northwest seafood products that are “currently produced in large volumes and that are easily accessible and transportable,” including whiting and rockfish fillets, should be included in this years USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Section 32 program, which makes purchases for immediate distribution to food assistance programs, the senators and representatives said.

We greatly appreciate the efforts that the USDA has made to support our industry in recent years. These continue to be extremely challenging times, and we cannot overstate the significance of the USDAs actions to expand procurement programs to include greater quantities of domestically produced seafood,” they wrote.

SeafoodSource Premium

Become a Premium member to unlock the rest of this article.

Continue reading ›

Already a member? Log in ›


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500