Aquaculture Producers Added to USDA Food Assistance Program


Staff Report

USDA will accept applications now through Dec. 11 for oyster and clam businesses to access funds included within the CARES Act Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

It’s an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability Act (CARES Act) and the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act that U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine and U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria advocated for.

“Like other agricultural producers, the seafood and shellfish aquaculture industry in Virginia has suffered greatly as a result of this health and economic crisis,” said Sen. Warner. “I
trust that this will provide many independent seafood businesses with the reprieve they need to continue operations and emerge stronger after this crisis is over.”

“This move by the USDA will provide much needed relief to these businesses, many of which are family owned and operated,” said Sen. Kaine.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, our local aquaculture industry is continuing to suffer from severe financial hardships caused by unprecedented losses In markets and demand,” said Luria. “That is why I advocated for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inclusion of much-needed assistance for the Eastern Shore’s hardworking watermen through its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The aquaculture industry is an integral part of our regional economy, and we must continue to support it during this
challenging time.”

Eligible aquaculture species must be raised by a commercial operator and in water in a controlled environment. This includes molluscan shellfish and seaweed that was previously covered under the U.S. Department of Commerce program.

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2, or CFAP 2, will provide aquaculture producers with financial assistance that gives them the ability to absorb some of the increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. More information can be found at

The program does not cover harvesting of wild species. The CARES Act set aside $300 million nationally for the seafood industry and left the details of how to distribute that funding to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. That money has still not been distributed.

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