Collins seeks coronavirus direct relief payments for nation’s aquaculture farmers

Aquaculture farmers should be eligible for direct relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and her home-state colleagues.

“The work that the USDA is doing to assist farmers across the country during this uncertain time is absolutely critical, and we urge the USDA to ensure relief is being made available to all farmers, including those who raise seafood,” wrote Sen. Collins and three of her U.S. Senate colleagues in an April 27 letter sent to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Sen. Collins and her Maine colleagues pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted Maine aquaculture farmers, which cultivate a range of seafood products, from eastern oysters and blue mussels to seaweed and scallops, according to their letter.

“These farms rely heavily on the restaurant industry to keep their businesses afloat,” the senators wrote. “With the closure of food service establishments across the country due to mandated public health measures, Maine aquaculture farmers are in dire need of assistance.”

As USDA works to distribute CFAP funding, the senators urged Secretary Perdue to ensure aquaculture farmers are among those eligible to receive direct relief from the department.

Their letter received endorsements from the Maine Aquaculture Association, Mook Sea Farm, and the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association.