Merkley, Wyden Announce $52 Million USDA Seafood Purchasing Agreement that Will Boost Oregon’s Seafood Industry

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) approval of a $52 million purchase of Pacific Northwest seafood products. This purchase will support our State’s seafood industry which has been hit hard by COVID-19 and climate chaos.

“Not only do our fisheries deliver incredible products all around the world, they have been the lifeblood of communities up and down Oregon’s coast for generations,” said Merkley, who led several Congressional pushes to ensure that the USDA included Pacific Northwest seafood processors in its important purchasing programs. “This announcement ensures Oregon’s coastal fishermen and seafood producers receive critical financial assistance needed to continue operating and providing services here in Oregon and beyond. I am elated the USDA has made the decision to extend their purchasing agreement—this is huge for Oregon’s coastal communities.”

“Oregon’s globally renowned seafood industry generates jobs and builds stronger economies in towns stretching for hundreds of miles along the Oregon Coast,” Wyden said. “Today’s news providing vital federal aid to coastal fisheries and processors is a real shot in the arm for Oregon communities hit by the climate crisis and the pandemic’s financial fallout. I’m gratified the teamwork to secure this support has produced such well-deserved dividends for seafood jobs and activity in our state.”

Senators Merkley and Wyden have been long-time advocates for fisheries in the Pacific Northwest and ensuring that the USDA include Pacific Northwest fisheries and seafood processors in critical purchasing programs. Last fall, the Senators secured $16.5 million in Pacific seafood purchases, and in April, Senators Merkley and Wyden led colleagues in a letter urging USDA to continue purchasing West Coast seafood.

The $52 million will be distributed among three main seafood products, all of which are sourced from prevalent fisheries in the state of Oregon:

  • Pacific pink shrimp – $12 million
  • Pacific whiting fillets – $22 million
  • Pacific rockfish fillets – $18 million

“This announcement is a huge boost for our processors, our fishermen, our communities,” West Coast Seafood Processors Association Executive Director Lori Steele said. “We have been able to keep our doors open, our processing employees working, and nutritious, sustainable seafood flowing to the American public, thanks in part to the USDA’s purchases these last two years. We would like to thank our Senators, Congressmen and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for their ongoing support. These purchases will continue to help supplement and stabilize our fishing and processing crews and their families through the rest of the year.”

Purchases will be made under the authority of Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935, which supports the fishing sector and encourages the continued domestic consumption of locally caught seafood by diverting it from the normal channels of trade and commerce and into domestic food assistance programs.