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USDA announces $50 million in grants to seafood processors

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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invested nearly $50 million in grants for its Seafood Processors Pandemic Response (SPRS) programme to support seafood processors, facilities and vessels.

This block grant funding, which will be distributed through state agencies, will help defray costs incurred by seafood processing facilities and processing vessels preparing for, preventing exposure to, and responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“USDA is working with agricultural and food businesses to ensure that, following the pandemic disruptions, they have the resources and tools to continue building more and better markets, and to thrive in 2022 and beyond,” said USDA Under Secretary for marketing and regulatory programmes Jenny Lester Moffitt.

SPRS recipients include state agencies, commissions, or departments responsible for agriculture, fisheries, wildlife, seafood, commercial processing or related commerce activities. SPRS will be active in state agencies within Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington, as well as the territory of American Samoa. This programme is funded by the pandemic assistance provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“This funding for seafood processors and processing vessels will serve as a bridge, providing relief to an industry that was greatly affected by the pandemic as well as the resulting changes in consumer demand,” Under Secretary Moffitt said.

“This programme is part of our larger pandemic assistance programme, providing support to producers, distributors, processors and other small agricultural businesses to get our food system back on track.”

Once USDA has made awards, state agencies will provide funds to seafood processing facilities and processing vessels. Seafood processors and processing vessels should apply directly through their state agency. A listing of state contacts will be made available on the USDA website.

Additionally, states are encouraged to prioritise applications that benefit smaller processors and vessels, socially disadvantaged processors, veteran processors and/or underserved communities. For grants intending to serve these entities, applicants should engage and involve those beneficiaries when developing projects and applications.

A complete list of the SPRS grant recipients is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service website.

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