The U.S. Department of Agriculture will purchase $25 million in Atlantic groundfish products for distribution to food banks and other community assistance, another round of buying for the Northeast seafood industry that had been historically left out of USDA’s Section 32 nutrition program.

The federal government’s covid-19 response during 2020 included big USDA buys of seafood product like Alaska pollock, and New England lawmakers pushed for the same with their hard-hit fleets. The agency announced another round of $25 million aimed at the Northeast in funding Dec. 22.

“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,” said Massachusetts Sens. Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Reps. William Keating and Seth Moulton in a joint statement.

“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.”

The Massachusetts delegation pushed for including Northeast seafood products in nutrition aid as part of $9.5 billion that Congress appropriated as part of the Coronavirus Assistance, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for agricultural producers. In May 2020 the USDA’s plan included $20 million of Atlantic haddock, pollock, and redfish for new Section 32 food purchases.

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Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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