Today, the Southern Shrimp Alliance sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture thanking Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue for the commitment made to Rep. Garret Graves (La.-6th Dist.) that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would purchase U.S. wild-caught warmwater shrimp.
In his own letter sent yesterday, Rep. Graves thanked Secretary Perdue for directing the Agricultural Marketing Service to purchase up to 20 million pounds of domestic wild-caught warm-water shrimp. Rep. Graves explained that “[b]y supplying healthy U.S. shrimp, members of the American Shrimp Processors Association can sustain their businesses in the meantime while helping to feed those in need across the supply chain.”
The Southern Shrimp Alliance expressed support for the initiative, describing the potential devastating harm to thousands of family-owned, small- and medium-sized businesses throughout coastal communities in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic if the market for their landed shrimp was severely curtailed. While the industry has worked to enhance its direct-to-consumer sales and expand the presence of U.S. wild-caught shrimp in retail markets around the country, the food service sector remains extremely important to commercial shrimpers.
Currently, the USDA purchases four species of seafood through its Commodity Procurement Program: Alaskan pollock, catfish, salmon, and tuna. Over the last several years, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has developed technical requirements (specifications) for new forms of seafood products beyond canned and breaded foods and, in result, has facilitated the purchase of significant quantities of unbreaded fish fillets. In 2019 alone, the USDA purchased a total of $161 million in Alaskan pollock, catfish, and salmon products following invitations to bid based on the agency’s technical requirements. The product forms of shrimp produced by the U.S. shrimp processing sector should fit well into the Agricultural Marketing Service’s existing framework.
Seafood purchased by the USDA is then distributed through the National School Lunch Program and other federal food and nutrition assistance programs administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, including The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDRIP), and USDA-Food In Schools (USDA-FIS).
“The Southern Shrimp Alliance is grateful to Secretary Perdue for directing the Agricultural Marketing Service to include domestic wild-caught shrimp in its commodity purchases and to Rep. Garret Graves and the American Shrimp Processors Association for bringing the industry’s plight to the USDA’s attention,” said John Williams, Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “I firmly believe that not only will our industry benefit from participating in the USDA’s commodity procurement program, but that the communities served by the USDA’s food and nutrition programs will benefit from having shrimp as another wholesome, healthy protein option on offer.”
Read the Southern Shrimp Alliance’s April 7, 2020 letter to Secretary Perdue here: https://shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/SSA-Letter-to-USDA-1.pdf
Read Rep. Garret Graves’ April 6, 2020 letter to Secretary Perdue here: https://garretgraves.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/graves-secures-usda-purchase-louisiana-shrimp-help-meet-covid-19-food
Read the American Shrimp Processors Association’s March 25, 2020 letter to Bruce Summers, Director, Agricultural Marketing Service here: https://www.americanshrimp.com/american-shrimp-processors-association-calls-for-shrimp-to-be-designated-as-a-commodity-purchase/#.XoybOYhKg2w