USDA to buy $30M in shrimp to aid Gulf seafood industry

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Gulf of Mexico seafood industry is getting help from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it will buy $30 million worth of shrimp from Gulf Coast fishermen in an effort to stabilize the industry.

The announcement comes after Louisiana and Mississippi officials called for federal assistance over fears that the price of seafood could collapse because of an excess in product amid the pandemic, news outlets reported.

“This is a step in the right direction for helping the seafood industry and Louisiana shrimpers in particular,” Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said. “This will help keep our shrimpers in their boats and in business. However, we still have work to do to get our entire seafood industry the assistance it deserves.”

Mississippi’s two U.S. senators and one of its U.S. representatives said in a news release that they sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in May, asking the USDA to buy shrimp and distribute it to needy people during the coronavirus pandemic.

“At a time when American families and seafood producers alike are suffering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, this agreement will provide healthy, high-quality protein for American dinner tables and support the vibrant domestic shrimping industry, which employs thousands of people across the southern United States,” Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said the release.

Louisiana is the second-largest supplier of seafood in the nation. According to Nungesser’s office, Louisiana produces over $2.4 billion in seafood and one in every 70 jobs in the state is linked to the seafood industry.

In April, the USDA bought millions of pounds of shrimp caught in the Gulf of Mexico to help support the seafood industry during the pandemic.