The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced an investment of about $50 million in grants to support facilities and vessels through the Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program (SPRS).
The funding, which was announced in mid-February and is to be distributed through state agencies, is to help defray costs incurred by seafood processing facilities and processing vessels preparing for, preventing exposure to, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program is funded as part of pandemic assistance provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
SPRS recipients include state agencies, commissions or departments responsible for agriculture, fisheries, wildlife, seafood, commercial processing or related commerce activities.
West Coast and Pacific states expected to receive funding include Alaska, Washington, California, Hawaii, Oregon and the territory of American Samoa.
Other states slated for funding include Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Alabama.
“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,” department Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt explained. “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.”
“This program is part of our larger pandemic assistance program, providing support to producers, distributors, processors and other small agricultural businesses to get our food system back on track,” she added.
USDA said that once it issues awards, state agencies are to provide funds to processing facilities and vessels. Seafood processors and processing vessels should apply directly through their state agency; a listing of state contacts is available on the USDA website.
States are being encouraged by the department to prioritize applications that benefit smaller processors and vessels, socially disadvantaged processors, veteran processors and/or underserved communities. For grants intending to serve those entities, applicants should engage and involve those beneficiaries when developing projects and applications, the USDA said.
A complete list of the SPRS grant recipients is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website at www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/sprs.
The AMS supports U.S. food and agricultural products markets, while increasing consumer access to fresh, healthy foods through applied research, technical services and Congressionally funded grants.
More about AMS’s investments in enhancing and strengthening agricultural systems is available at www.ams.usda.gov/grants.