Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Congressmen William Keating (MA-09) and Seth Moulton (MA-06), released the following joint statement celebrating the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) announcement yesterday that it will purchase $25 million in Atlantic groundfish products through the Section 32 program for distribution to various food nutrition assistance programs. The USDA Section 32 program historically overlooked East Coast seafood, until the Massachusetts congressional delegation took action last year to push for its inclusion. This latest purchase will continue to help East Coast seafood producers that have been devastated by the ongoing effects of the pandemic.
"We are pleased that the USDA is continuing to support the Atlantic seafood industry, as we have urged them to do, after our contributions went overlooked in federal purchases for far too long. The ongoing effects of the pandemic warrant ongoing partnerships with the fishing communities that are keystones of our culture and economy in Massachusetts, as well for the food pantries that keep our communities fed."
Senators Markey and Warren, and Congressmen Keating and Moulton, wrote to the USDA in both April and May 2020 to urge the inclusion of domestic and Atlantic seafood companies in the deployment of the $9.5 billion awarded by the Coronavirus Assistance, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for affected agricultural producers. In May 2020, the Massachusetts lawmakers were successful when the USDA announced that it would include $20 million of Atlantic Haddock, Pollock, and Redfish in additional Section 32 food purchases made available in part by the CARES Act.