Gillibrand urges USDA to include fishermen and aquaculture farmers in purchase and distribution program

With Normal Supply Chains Disrupted by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Farmers to Families Food Box Program Would Give Fisherman and Aquaculture Farmers Essential Support to Distribute Their Goods

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to include fishermen and aquaculture farmers in the agency’s food purchasing and distribution program, the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. While produce, livestock, and dairy farmers have been supported by the program, commercial fishermen and aquaculture farmers have been largely excluded. The coronavirus pandemic has caused significant disruption in the market for New York’s seafood industry, which relies on restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities to purchase and distribute their goods.

“Our commercial fishermen and aquaculture farmers are in desperate need of help and support,” said Senator Gillibrand“Including them in the USDA’s innovative Farmers to Families Food Box program will provide them with the critical assistance needed to distribute their goods. These fishermen and aquaculture farmers are vital to feeding New Yorkers and coastal states across the country and they deserve as much support as our farmers and ranchers. It’s important that the USDA approve this request and support our seafood industry during the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.” 

Commercial fisherman and aquaculture farmers all play essential roles in the economies of coastal states like New York and in feeding the entire country. Through the Farmers to Families Food Box program, these producers would have a channel to distribute their goods while normal supply chains are disrupted. This partnership with the USDA would allow distributors and wholesalers to provide a pre-approved box of products to food banks, community and faith based organizations, and other non-profits who are currently serving Americans in need during this public health crisis.

Senator Gillibrand has worked to provide economic relief for New York’s fisherman throughout the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. As New York’s fisheries await much needed disaster funding, Senator Gillibrand called on NOAA to quickly release $300 million allocated for fisheries under the CARES Act. Senator Gillibrand also pushed for New York’s hard hit fisherman to receive economic relief in accordance with per-capita income and local cost of living, which is one of the highest in the United States.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below. 

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