Oregon lawmakers are pushing the USDA to buy more seafood from the West Coast

A group of U.S. Senators and Representatives from Oregon are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase government purchases of seafood sourced from the West Coast.

The USDA earned USD 52 million (EUR 48 million) in purchasing seafood from the U.S. West Coast in 2022 at the urging of lawmakers, but had not previously requested seafood from the Pacific Coast in its commodity purchasing programs, according to a letter to USDA Administrator Bruce Summers from U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Val Hoyle and Andrea Salinas

“This change has proven to be essential, especially for Oregons smaller coastal communities that continue to recover from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, international conflicts and many other factors,” said a joint press release of the senators and representatives.

Commercial fishing and seafood processing on the U.S. West Coast “makes significant contributions to the nationfish production and the agricultural economy,” the lawmakers wrote. The industry serves as the economic backbone for numerous small ports and rural coastal communities in Oregon. Fishing activities are deeply ingrained in the local culture and way of life on the Oregon coast.”

An influx of imported species and substitutes from other countries has “intensified competition in the domestic market, making it difficult for domestic producers to sell their supplies at desired prices,” the lawmakers wrote.

“In particular, the harvest and production of redfish and whiting has been subject to changing economic factors, such as changes in disposable income, unemployment rates and consumer confidence, which have affected demand for seafood products, leading to excess inventories,” they say she.

As a result, seafood products from the U.S. Pacific Northwest that are “currently produced in high volumes and are easily accessible and transportable,” including whiting and rockfish fillets, should be included this year.‘s USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Section 32 program, which makes purchases for immediate distribution to food assistance programs, the senators and representatives said.

We greatly appreciate the efforts the USDA has made in recent years to support our industry. These remain extremely challenging times, and we cannot emphasize enough the importance of the USDAs actions to expand sourcing programs to include greater quantities of domestically produced seafood,” they wrote.

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