USDA announces USD 50 million allocation in COVID aid for seafood businesses
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the allocation of USD 50 million (EUR 43.9 million) in grant funds to help the seafood industry in 25 states and territories.
The funding, which Congress appropriated in the COVID-19 emergency relief portion of the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in December 2020, will be awarded to state agencies to help companies that operate fishing vessels and processing facilities reduce the cost of planning and executing their responses to the pandemic.
Each state will receive at least USD 200,000 (EUR 175,585) in funding. Seafood processors and fishing boat owners will apply for funds through their state’s funding agency.
In a statement, USDA Under-Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said her department is working with a wide array of companies to make sure they can continue to grow as they emerge from the nearly two-year-old pandemic, which has taken a toll on several facets of the food industry.
“This funding for seafood processors and processing vessels will serve as a bridge, providing relief to an industry that was greatly affected by the pandemic as well as the resulting changes in consumer demand,” Moffitt said.
States that will receive funding are listed on USDA's website, and include Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington state. American Samoa will also receive funding as well.
Alaska, by far America’s largest seafood producer, will receive nearly USD 30.7 million (EUR 27 million) in grant funding.
The Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority announced Wednesday, February 16, it will manage the USD 4.2 million (EUR 3.7 million) allocation the country’s second-largest seafood producing state received.
“The last two years have brought plenty of challenges to the industry, including the COVID-19 pandemic, but also brutal hurricane seasons,” Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said in a statement. “It’s time to get them back on track and offer some assistance to one of the most important and impactful Louisiana industries.”
In Massachusetts, the state’s Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program will receive a USD 1.1 million (EUR 965,852) allocation. In a joint statement, U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren thanked the USDA for helping businesses in their state.
“If we fail to support our working waterfronts, we risk letting down a vital industry that is not only critical to our economy in Massachusetts but also to our way of life,” the Democratic lawmakers said. “We will continue to work to support these efforts and the essential work taking place in the seafood industry.”
Photo courtesy of Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock