New USDA Program to Offer Seafood Processors Pandemic Economic Relief

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials say they plan to accept public requests for applications soon regarding two new grant programs for stakeholders that have yet to receive federal financial assistance to deal with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant program, with $50 million available in funding, focuses on seafood processing facilities, including processing vessels, and other engaged in the shellfish and aquaculture industries. The Pandemic Response and Safety Grant program is focused on the small businesses engaged in certain commodities, including meat, with $650 million in available grants.

USDA will allocate block grant funding to states and territories based on a formula to provide relief for costs of preparing for, preventing exposure to and responding to the pandemic. Once each state or territory receives grant funds, seafood processors will have to apply to state agencies for direct assistance.

Tribal government owned eligible entities may apply directly to USDA, details of which are to be developed through tribal consultation in conjunction with the Office of Tribal Relations.

State grant allocations were determined using National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2019 landings data to distribute funds proportionally, based on their respective percentage of total landings, with a cut-off at 0.05% or more and a minimum award of $200,000.

They include Alaska, $30,694,746; California, $510,912; Hawaii, $200,000; Oregon, $1,532,089 and Washington state, $2,426,509.

Updated information on both programs will be available on the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service website,