Covid Relief Package has Some Help for Seafood

By Jessica Hathaway.

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law on Thursday, March 11, almost one year after the CARES Act established the country’s first federal coronavirus relief bill.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is the largest spending package in U.S. history and contains significantly less relief for the commercial fishing and seafood industries than the CARES Act included (though much of it was slow to reach our fleets as the shutdowns closed long-established markets).

In this round of relief, the seafood industry was included in language under the agriculture section, which comes with a $4 billion set-aside to assist domestic food production and the supply chain in coping with ongoing covid response and preparedness.

“The American Rescue Plan Act’s inclusion of support for the seafood industry in the form USDA purchases recognizes the market losses and incredible costs incurred by our industry to keep Alaska’s seafood workforce and fishing communities safe amid the pandemic,” Jeremy Woodrow, executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, told NF.

The $4 billion set-aside is designated:

• “To purchase and distribute agricultural commodities (including fresh produce, dairy, seafood, eggs, and meat) to individuals in need.” This funding could serve to aid the flagging restaurant sector as a conduit for storage, staging and delivery.