US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey this week urged the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to dole out more money from a $20 million (€16.9 million) program designed to purchase Atlantic pollock, haddock and redfish for distribution through food assistance programs.

While lauding the USDA's $4.4 million (€3.7 million) bid award to private equity-backed Blue Harvest Fisheries in September, the lawmakers said the USDA needs to do more to help the US seafood industry in states such as Massachusetts, where businesses are suffering from the COVID-19 market fallout.

"With the Blue Harvest contract, we understand that USDA has used only around $5 million of the $20 million solicitation for Atlantic seafood, although the remaining $15 million is available for the Section 32 program during the next fiscal year," the letter states.

"We ask that USDA continue to dedicate those funds specifically to the purchase of Atlantic pollock, haddock, and redfish. Section 32 purchasing is a new type of market opportunity for Atlantic fishermen and processors and surplus stocks will remain accessible throughout next year."

(Read the full letter)

IntraFish data shows that through 2020 the USDA awarded US seafood companies over $100 million (€84.2 million) for federal food and nutrition assistance programs.