augusta free press news

Elaine Luria calls on USDA to assist Virginia fishery, aquaculture industries

Elaine LuriaCongresswoman Elaine Luria is spearheading a bipartisan effort urging the USDA to support aquaculture growers and commercial fisheries in its recent $19 billion pandemic relief package.

Fellow Virginia Reps. Bobby Scott and Rob Wittman joined this initiative.

“The commercial fishery and aquaculture industries are integral to the health of our regional economies across America and Coastal Virginia,” said Luria, D-Va. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, these industries have suffered from a severe loss in markets and demand. If the USDA does not act now, we will risk wasting millions of pounds of fresh seafood and severe economic consequences for these vital industries.”

The COVID-19 crisis has hit the aquaculture industry especially hard. Sales to restaurants, caterers, and other food services account for almost 70 percent of the industry’s revenue. With many restaurants either closed or operating at a reduced capacity, seafood producers are reporting drastic declines in demand.

Luria’s letter urges USDA to include aquaculture growers and commercial fishery producers in the USDA’s $16 billion in direct support to farmers and ranchers. Citing that food banks are reporting a 70 percent increase in demand, her initiative calls on USDA to work with industry stakeholders to develop solutions to include shellfish and other seafood products in USDA’s $3 billion commodity purchase and distribution program. It argues that by doing so, USDA can support an economic engine while helping Americans access a highly nutritious food source.

Click here for the letter.