Sullivan Introduces Comprehensive Legislation to Heighten USDA Support for Seafood
Bill would establish USDA office to coordinate federal seafood policies
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) last week introduced comprehensive seafood-related legislation intended to bolster U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) support for domestic fishermen and seafood producers. In addition to numerous other provisions that would support the sustainable harvest and consumption of American seafood, Sen. Sullivan’s National Seafood Supply Act of 2023 directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish an Office of Seafood Policy and Program Integration within the Office of the Chief Economist to provide for the effective coordination of seafood policies and activities across the department. The office would work in coordination with the Secretary of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative to support domestically harvested and processed seafood.
“I’ve tirelessly advocated for seafood to be supported by the Department of Agriculture, and this year’s Farm Bill offers another great opportunity to do exactly that. Fishermen sustainably harvest one of the healthiest and most nutrient-rich sources of protein,” said Senator Sullivan. “This bill is a comprehensive legislative package to elevate the priorities of fishermen and the seafood industry within the USDA. These provisions will give fishermen access to USDA farm loans, establish an Office of Seafood tasked with coordinating seafood policies and programs at the USDA and across federal agencies, focus taxpayer dollars in the National School Lunch Program on U.S.-harvested seafood, foster greater food security in rural communities, and ensure fair labeling of foreign-sourced seafood products, such as cooked crab and canned salmon. All of these provisions are focused on supporting and strengthening domestically-harvested and processed seafood—and the countless communities and hundreds of thousands of jobs this economic sector supports. I urge my colleagues to stand with America’s fishermen and seafood processors and help us get this important legislation included in the forthcoming Farm Bill.”
The legislation also incorporates language from legislation Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sullivan introduced earlier this month allowing fish to be labelled as “wild USA seafood” or “wild American seafood,” or any equivalent if the fish is harvested in the wild.
Other provisions of Sen. Sullivan’s National Seafood Supply Act of 2023 include:
- Direction for the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a study identifying barriers to local and regional food production, processing, and market delivery in locations facing food security challenges, including Alaska. The report will describe the findings of the study and identify recommended congressional actions to reduce the barriers identified to foster local community resilience and business development. Alaskans, particularly those who live in remote locations, in recent years endured both the pandemic and unprecedented low returns of salmon, demonstrating a need to foster new ways of food production and availability, along with community resilience and local business development.
- Amendments to theRichard B. Russell National School Lunch Actto require a waiver from the secretarybefore a school food authority canpurchase foreign commodities or products, and for this information to be publicly available—thereby advantaging U.S.-sourced products. It also directs the development of a plan to increase seafood in the National School Lunch Program to levels commensurate with Food and Drug Administration dietary guidelines.
- Language that expands the eligibility for USDA farm loans to include commercial fishing.
- Modifications to country-of-origin labeling requirements to include cooked king and tanner crab, as well as cooked and canned salmon to the list of products covered.
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