USDA approves shrimp-buy program to help distressed seafood industry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday commitment to purchase an additional $25 million in wild-caught shrimp that should benefit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, according to a press release from Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

The USDA announced the purchase of Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic wild-caught shrimp through its Section 32 Program for distribution to food banks and other nonprofit nutrition programs.  The Gulf Coast is a leading source of the shrimp caught for domestic consumption.

“The guaranteed purchase of Gulf shrimp will help support an industry that has been under added stress because of supply chain disruptions over the past year.  I hope this action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will boost Mississippi shrimpers and processors as our economy gets back on track,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

Within a few days of approval, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service will offer these commodities to their networks. Orders should be received during the first week of June with solicitations being issued mid-June and awards occurring near the end of the month. Deliveries should start to occur by mid-August.

The $25 million shrimp purchase is authorized under Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935.  Section 32 purchases support a broad variety of U.S. agriculture producers and provide USDA Food and Nutrition Service nutrition assistance programs with commodities for distribution.

Last year, Mississippi agriculture benefited from the first-time USDA Section 32 Program shrimp purchase.  The program also has been used to purchase farm-raised catfish for nutrition assistance programs.

The shrimp buy is part of an overall $159.4 million Section 32 purchase of domestically produced seafood, fruits, legumes, and nuts for distribution to a variety of domestic food assistance programs, including charitable institutions.

Solicitations will be available electronically through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management (WBSCM) system and on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s website at www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food. To be eligible to submit offers, potential contractors must meet the AMS vendor qualification requirements and be domestic operations.

USDA also announced Thursday a policy change that makes food fish and other aquatic species eligible for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) under the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Previously, only farm-raised game and bait fish were eligible for death loss ELAP benefits. Beginning June 1, eligible aquaculture producers can request ELAP assistance for 2021 losses. This policy change is for the 2021 and subsequent program years. To learn more, please visit the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish page.

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