Congresswoman Elaine Luria Calls on USDA to Assist Local Fishery & Aquaculture Industries
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – Congresswoman Elaine Luria is spearheading a bipartisan effort urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support aquaculture growers and commercial fisheries in its recent $19 billion pandemic relief package. Fellow Virginia Representatives Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Rob Wittman (VA-01) joined this initiative.
“The commercial fishery and aquaculture industries are integral to the health of our regional economies across America and Coastal Virginia,” said Congresswoman Luria. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, these industries have suffered from a severe loss in markets and demand. If the USDA does not act now, we will risk wasting millions of pounds of fresh seafood and severe economic consequences for these vital industries.”
The COVID-19 crisis has hit the aquaculture industry especially hard. Sales to restaurants, caterers, and other food services account for almost 70 percent of the industry’s revenue. With many restaurants either closed or operating at a reduced capacity, seafood producers are reporting drastic declines in demand.
Congresswoman Luria’s letter urges USDA to include aquaculture growers and commercial fishery producers in the USDA’s $16 billion in direct support to farmers and ranchers. Citing that food banks are reporting a 70 percent increase in demand, her initiative calls on USDA to work with industry stakeholders to develop solutions to include shellfish and other seafood products in USDA’s $3 billion commodity purchase and distribution program. It argues that by doing so, USDA can support an economic engine while helping Americans access a highly nutritious food source.
Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.