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From U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley

This pandemic has rocked our economy — throwing obstacle after obstacle in the way of workers and business owners in so many industries. But between a sharp decline in

Sen. Jeff Merkley
D-Oregon

demand as people stopped going to restaurants and the difficulties of maintaining safe work practices during this pandemic, our fisheries and seafood processing sector have been especially hard-hit by this crisis. That means families up and down our coast who rely on this crucial industry have been struggling to make ends meet throughout the past year. 

Besides helping to pass critical relief packages that include stimulus checks and Paycheck Protection Program loans, one of the ways I’ve been working to help these Oregonians is to push the federal government last year to purchase more seafood through programs like the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Procurement Program. And while I’m pleased that the share of seafood products purchased through programs like these is increasing, I’m troubled by the fact that so many West Coast fisheries are still being left out. 


 
So this week, I led a group of nine lawmakers — including members of Oregon’s delegation, Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici — in pushing the Biden administration to ensure that West Coast seafood products are included in federal purchasing programs. There is no reason why our fishing sector shouldn’t receive the same level of support as fishermen in other regions, or as businesses in other agricultural industries across America.

The seafood industry is vital to so many coastal communities in Oregon, and I’m going to keep doing everything I can to ensure that they get the support they need to get through this pandemic.

All my best,
Jeff

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