Graves Blasts ‘Lowball’ Fisheries Funding for Louisiana Under CARES Act
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) released the following statement regarding the abysmal $14,785,244 allocated to Louisiana fisheries to mitigate the economic hardships accrued by the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress included $300 million to address impacts to recreational and commercial fishers who have been negatively affected by COVID–19. Only 4.9 percent of the available funds was provided to Louisiana despite being one of the top fisheries states in the nation.
“Washington State is receiving $50 million compared to Louisiana’s $14.7 million when we have a 50 percent greater value to our fisheries landings. Florida receives $23 million, even though Louisiana brings in 50 percent greater value. Oregon receives over $15 million and California $18 million when we have more than double their fisheries by value and triple by poundage. They must be counting aquarium fish. You really can’t compete, unless you are cheating.
“It makes no sense. We have already reached out to the House Natural Resources Committee to request an investigation into these bogus allocations to the states. Louisiana was only awarded 4.9 percent of this funding. How is it possible for Louisiana, one of the top fishing states in the nation, to only receive this much while other states with a fraction of a fishing industry get more money? This is a slap in the face.
“Louisiana is the second-largest seafood supplier in the nation, with one out of every 70 jobs dependent on the industry, creating an economic impact in the billions annually and serving as the economic engine of local communities. We are one of the nation’s leaders on shrimp, crawfish, blue crabs and oysters – as well as recreational fishing of which we are one of the top states in the country.
“Our shrimp industry right now for example is in much worse shape and if it experiences another collapse in price, the size of the fleet and the number of processors will be dramatically reduced. These are not luxury items. These are staples on probably every grocery shelf, restaurant menu or catering service option in Louisiana.
“South Louisiana and the fishing communities are still hurting from the 2019 opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway and face competition with the falsely labeled crawfish from overseas and imported shrimp taking precedent in the market over our domestic and sustainable seafood products. The added pandemic has caused irreparable harm on our people. I look forward to digging deeper into this and finding out why Louisiana got the short end yet again.”
To read more about the U.S. Department of Commerce allocation process and a summary of allocations, click here.
Background on Graves Working toward Relief for Fisheries during COVID-19:
On April 6, 2020, Graves secured a commitment for up to up to 20 million pounds of U.S. shrimp to be purchased from Louisiana and Gulf Coast shrimpers and processors by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Graves sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue thanking him for directing the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the USDA for purchasing the wild-caught, warm-water shrimp landed in the US. Graves has worked with the USDA, AMS and the American Shrimp Processors Association on this purchase throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response efforts.