The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it will purchase $70.9 million of domestic wild seafood, registering its largest purchase of U.S. seafood to date.

The purchase, made possible under the Agricultural Adjustment Act, is one of many actions USDA is taking to address food insecurity and disruptions in the food system supply chain exacerbated by the pandemic.

The seafood purchases come from a $159.4 million commitment to buying domestic seafood, fruits, legumes and nuts for distribution to a variety of domestic food assistance programs, including charitable institutions.

“The impacts of covid-19 reverberated from our farms to our oceans,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement. “U.S. fisheries and the American seafood industry were dealt a heavy blow. Today, USDA is pleased to make the largest single seafood purchase in the department’s history. These healthy, nutritious food purchases will benefit food banks and non-profits helping those struggling with food hardship as the Biden administration works to get the economy back on track for American families.”

Seafood Purchase Totals

Alaska Pollock $20 Million

Gulf/South Atlantic Wild Shrimp $25 Million

Pacific Pink Shrimp $4 Million

Pacific Rockfish Fillets $4 Million

Pacific Whiting Fillets $9 Million

Sockeye Salmon $8.9 Million

The announcement was coupled with a policy change that makes food fish and other aquatic species eligible for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program under the USDA Farm Service Agency, which previously only covered farm-raised game and bait fish. This policy change is for 2021 on.

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 15 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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