The US Congress on Wednesday gave final approval to President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion (€1.6 trillion) stimulus package, which included a provision that directs the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allocate $4 billion (€3 billion) to commodity purchases, including seafood.
The funds will be used to purchase and distribute agricultural commodities that include seafood to "individuals in need, including through delivery to nonprofit organizations and through restaurants and other food related entities," according to legislation that was approved by the US House of Representatives Wednesday.
The funds can also be used for grants and loans for "small or midsized food processors or distributors, seafood processing facilities and processing vessels, farmers markets, producers, or other organizations" to be used for COVID-19 purposes, such as implementing measures to protect workers from the virus.
The legislation provides one of the largest injections of federal aid since the Great Depression, according to the New York Times. Biden is expected to sign the bill Friday.
Major US seafood processors told IntraFish last year that protecting workers by providing personal protective equipment such as masks, hand sanitizer and gloves, as well as other measures designed to keep workers safe and prevent the spread of the virus was costing tens of millions of dollars.
Last October, three US companies based in Louisiana and Texas sued the USDA over policies created by the Trump Administration they said violated the Fifth Amendment. The companies mentioned in that lawsuit the US government provided no "federal bailout for the wholesale seafood businesses" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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