Shellfish growers in Washington state hard hit economically by the COVID-19 pandemic will be offered grants of up to $5,000, thanks to the state’s departments of Commerce and Agriculture. Grant funds include $250,000 from the Working Washington Small Business Emergency grant program and $50,000 from WSDA’s Rural Rehab Program.
Washington is the leading domestic producer of farmed oysters and clams, with a $300 million industry that supports some 3,000 jobs, many in rural communities struggling economically.
State officials said local and global market demand for these shellfish has dropped dramatically since January, with some growers reporting an 80-90 percent drop in revenue.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state’s shellfish growers have been devastated by the global pandemic. The grants will help small shellfish growers in particular be able to make timely purchases of seed and larvae this year to keep next season’s sales opportunities alive, Inslee said.
State officials said that concerns of Washington’s shellfish industry extend to about nine West Coast hatcheries from California to British Columbia that supply shellfish growers in Washington and beyond. To both growers and hatchery owners the cost of seed and larvae represents significant components of their cost models. With the reduction in revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic growers are worried about not having enough money to purchase seed to plant next year’s crops or offset the cost of raising seed.
State officials said the Commerce Department and WSDA will work with Impact Washington to administer funds through the Washington Shellfish Industry Seed Bank. Qualified growers may apply for up to $5,000, with a minimum of $1,000 available to reimburse for larvae and seed purchases. All purchases made between Feb. 29, 2020 and June 30, 2021 are eligible for reimbursement. An additional $300 “Buy Washington” will be offered to encourage purchases from Washington-based hatcheries, rather than out-of-state sources.
More information is online at http://startup.choosewashingtonstate.com/links/crisis/covid-19-resources/. Find grant applications at https://www.impactwashington.org/shellfish-seed-bank-intake-form.aspx