BATON ROUGE, La. – The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced a decision to purchase $30 million worth of shrimp from 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. Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said the decision came after his office sent letters to Rep. Steve Scalise and to President Trump requesting assistance for the seafood industry and adding Gulf Coast seafood products to the approved list of 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,” said Nungesser. “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.”
Nungesser said Louisiana produces $2.4 billion in seafood annually and one in every 70 jobs in the state 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.
“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,” he said. “The oyster industry has been uniquely impacted. As much as 95 percent 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.”
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