WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve a request for additional federal purchases of wild-caught shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico.
In a letter issued Thursday, Hyde-Smith asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to approve a domestic shrimp industry request for additional USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Section 32 Program purchases of domestic shrimp.
“As the industry noted in its request, domestic inventory levels are at an all-time high due to the massive level of shrimp imports,” Hyde-Smith wrote.
“Timing of the requested purchase is important,” the Senator continued. “The processing sector would like to release some inventory in the first quarter of 2024 to free up inventory space and allow it to purchase more shrimp at a better price from downstream fishermen. Prior solicitations issued in late November worked particularly well for the industry, and I hope you will consider issuing a new solicitation as soon as possible in December.”
U.S. shrimpers and processors issued the request after the U.S. International Trade Commission voted unanimously in June to maintain antidumping orders on imported shrimp from China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam after review of the “woeful financial condition” of the U.S. shrimp industry, including declines in market share and income, caused by unfair foreign trade practices.
An additional Section 32 purchase would allow processors to alleviate high inventories and create a more favorable economic environment for the upcoming shrimp harvest season.
“The domestic shrimp industry is part of the lifeblood of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and this purchase is critical to ensure the preservation of this iconic industry,” wrote Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
USDA approved Section 32 purchases of domestic Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic wild-caught shrimp in 2020 and 2021 to support the industry and provide additional resources for distribution to food banks and other nonprofit nutrition programs. The program has also been used to purchase farm-raised catfish for nutrition assistance programs.
To counter harm caused to Mississippi shrimp and catfish industries, Hyde-Smith last week cosponsored the Ban C-FOOD Act (S.3417), which would ban U.S. imports of seafood and aquaculture products from China. It would also sanction companies that import Chinese seafood and place tariffs on countries that facilitate the shipment of the seafood.
Read Hyde-Smith’s letter to Vilsack here.