Massachusetts lawmakers urge USDA to include U.S. seafood industry in a program to help agricultural producers affected by coronavirus crisis
Massachusetts (April 3, 2020) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Congressmen Seth Moulton (MA-06) and William Keating (MA-09) today wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging the inclusion of domestic and East Coast seafood companies in a Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act program to support agricultural producers negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The CARES Act included $9.5 billion in funding for affected agricultural producers. The USDA has not historically used its agricultural support funding to purchase goods from New England fisheries, but these fisheries and seafood processors have seen business plummet as restaurants and other local food systems – which account for two-thirds of seafood consumption – have closed as a result of the pandemic.
“In order to help the fishing and seafood economy survive this crisis, we ask you to include the fishing industry and its participants in the financial support that the CARES Act provides for agricultural producers,” write the Senators in their letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Fishermen and processors that supply restaurants and local food systems need support.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
The CARES Act coronavirus economic relief package included $300 million in direct Fisheries Disaster Assistance funding, established small business administration loans to help fishermen pay operational costs such as boat payments, and allowed self-employed fishermen to qualify for new and expanded unemployment benefits.