The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced a decision to purchase $30 million worth of shrimp for fisherman in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast. The purchase was approved under Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1953 allowing the USDA to provide emergency food assistance to states and food banks nationwide that operate The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). This recent announcement comes after Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser sent letters to Congressman Steve Scalise on March 26, 2020, and to the President on June 26, 2020, requesting assistance for the seafood industry and adding Gulf Coast seafood products to the approves additional food purchases for the USDA. This marks the second major purchase of Gulf Coast shrimp. In April, the USDA purchased 20 million pounds of shrimp.
“This is a step in the right direction for helping the seafood industry and Louisiana shrimpers in particular. This will help keep our shrimpers in their boats and in business. However, we still have work to do to get our entire seafood industry the assistance it deserves,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser.
As the nation’s second largest seafood supplier, Louisiana provides an incredible array of superior-quality seafood to restaurants and homes across the country. Annually, Louisiana produces $2.4 billion in seafood and one in every 70 jobs is related to the seafood industry. As part of the CARES Act passed in March, Louisiana fisherman and others in the seafood industry received about $14 million in aid due to the pandemic, an amount far too small to help save all of the seafood industry.
“Louisiana is the nation’s largest oyster producer and our oyster farmers and fisherman need the same assistance. Our crawfish and crab fisherman need help also,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “The oyster industry has been uniquely impacted. As much 90-95% of oysters are consumed in restaurants which are either closed or operating at half capacity or less. We face a pending collapse in prices that could drive many of the 2,000 small, shellfish farmers out of business. We need to have the excess product also purchased by the USDA to avoid such a collapse.”