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USDA Helps Struggling Pacific Seafood Industry With Historic Purchase

Provided by the West Coast Seafood Processors Association

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a first-time purchase of several West Coast seafood products for its food assistance programs.  The news is being well received by the regional seafood industry. 

Over the past year, the nationwide closure of restaurants has caused a 70 percent drop in the seafood market, according to Lori Steele.  She’s executive director for the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, which represents Oregon, Washington, and California.

Now Steele says out of $160 million the USDA is using to buy domestic products, $17 million will go towards seafood commercially harvested on the West Coast.

“The exciting part is they want to purchase all three of the products that we requested:  Pink shrimp, rock fish, and whiting," adds Steele. "$17 million is a really great start to this relationship.” 

Credit Matthew Doyle / USDA/Flickr.com - public domain
USDA/Flickr.com - public domain
U.S. Representative, Cindy Axne (D-IA) and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tour the Food Bank of Iowa on Monday, March 22, 2021. The stop was part of the American Rescue Plan.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says it’s his department’s largest seafood purchase ever.  Oregon alone provides 75 percent of the Pacific Coast’s pink shrimp harvest every year.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.