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USDA to Purchase Gulf Shrimp, Graves Initiated Deal in April 2020

May 13, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will purchase up to $25 million of Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Wild-Caught Shrimp to address the disruptions in the food system supply chain and food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Wild-Caught Shrimp amount is the second highest out of the 13 products purchased.

“From pandemic-related disruptions and record Spillway openings, to being forced to compete in markets rife with unfair foreign trade practices, Louisiana’s shrimp industry has been getting krilled by an onslaught of challenges – this is the kind of help needed,” said Graves. “For more than a year now, we have advocated for Louisiana’s seafood industry – the second-largest seafood supplier in the country and the economic engine of many areas along our coast. This announcement and the orders to follow will make a meaningful impact on these businesses, their employees and families, and the communities where they operate. It’s an important milestone for the industry-wide bounce back we’re continuing to fight for.”

These purchases are being made utilizing funds under the authority of Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act (Pub. L. 74-320), as amended (Section 32). To read more about the USDA purchases, solicitations and process, click here.

Background on Graves Working toward Relief for Fisheries and Communities during COVID-19:

Graves has worked with the USDA, AMS and the American Shrimp Processors Association on this purchase throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response efforts. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act included additional support for USDA programs that provide food to distressed communities.

In August 2020, Graves announced the USDA decision to purchase U.S. shrimp for distribution to community food and nutrition programs nationwide after Graves worked with the USDA to secure a commitment of up to 20 million pounds from Louisiana and Gulf Coast shrimpers and processors. Later in August, Graves announced the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of USDA released the pre-solicitation notice for shrimp purchases. To view the pre-solicitation notice, click here. The packs will be separated in 2 lb. and 5 lb. packages, and there will be three categories for the 5 lb. blocks: 21-35 count, 31-50 count, and 51-70 count.

By supplying healthy U.S. shrimp, members of the American Shrimp Processors Association can clear their inventory to sustain their businesses in the meantime, shrimpers can sell their catch and communities in need can be fed.

Graves sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue thanking him for directing the AMS for purchasing the wild-caught, warm-water shrimp landed in the U.S. Graves has worked with the USDA, AMS and the American Shrimp Processors Association on this purchase throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response efforts.

In August 2020, Graves announced that Louisiana crawfish is now included in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Graves has been pushing the USDA to make this critical program extension a reality as Louisiana’s seafood industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also issued guidance in April 2020 based both on legislation passed and requested by Graves. The legislation will enable FEMA, the State (Louisiana), or parishes an opportunity to either acquire food for hunger organizations like the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank to distribute or to provide financial resources for food banks to acquire and distribute food.

On April 10, 2020, Graves sent a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards and FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor highlighting the existing authority under the Stafford Act, which was activated by the presidential disaster declaration, that allows Louisiana, USDA and FEMA to expeditiously intervene in the urgent matter. In 2018, Congress passed Graves’ legislation to specifically create the authority for FEMA, states and parishes to collaborate with food banks.

On March 29, 2021, Graves released a statement regarding the abysmal $12,477,165 allocated to Louisiana fisheries to mitigate the economic hardships accrued by the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress included $255 million to address impacts to recreational and commercial fishers who have been negatively affected by COVID–19. Yet again, only 4.9 percent of the available funds was provided to Louisiana despite being one of the top fisheries states in the nation. To read more about the U.S. Department of Commerce allocation process and a summary of allocations, click here. Last year, Graves released a statement regarding the $14,785,244 (the first allocation)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. To read more about the U.S. Department of Commerce allocation process and a summary of allocations, click here.

On May 20, 2020, Graves also announced Louisiana would receive an additional $58,343,185 in fishery disaster funding to offset the impacts of the 2019 Bonnet Carre Spillway opening on Louisiana’s fisheries and other impacts. Louisiana became eligible to receive this disaster assistance due to the previously declared disaster declarations for fishing communities by the U.S. Department of Commerce after Hurricane Michael.

Congress appropriated $100 million in the 2019 Consolidated and Supplemental Appropriations Act to address the impact of excessive freshwater, the Bonnet Carre Spillway opening and other impacts in 2019. Louisiana’s share is two-thirds of the total funding, the highest of the $88 million released. There is a remaining $12 million to be allocated at a later date.

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