Maine Delegation Announces Seafood Processors and Agriculture Stakeholders Eligible for $700 Million in COVID-19 Relief

September 10, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will soon publish Requests for Applications (RFAs) for two new grant programs - the Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant program and the Seafood Pandemic Response Safety (SPRS) Block Grant program - to support agricultural stakeholders who haven’t yet received substantial federal financial assistance in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.  These grant programs will provide assistance to small businesses in certain commodity areas, including small scale specialty crop producers and processors, shellfish, aquaculture and other select producers, meat and other processors, distributors, farmers markets, seafood facilities, and processing vessels.  Today, USDA released grant forecasts for these new programs to help potential applicants determine their eligibility and prepare to apply for funding.  

Approximately $650 million in funding is available for PRS grants and $50 million is available for SPRS grants.  All of these new programs are funded by the Pandemic Assistance provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.  The Maine Delegation co-signed a letter earlier this year urging USDA to release this funding.

 “Since the onset of the pandemic, food processors have had to invest significant time, resources, and attention to protect their workers and safeguard their ability to provide food to our nation in a time of unprecedented crisis.  Additionally, given the complexity of U.S. seafood supply chains, the success of seafood processors to meet and overcome the challenges created by COVID is directly linked to the success of fishermen who risk their safety to harvest the seafood that Americans enjoy,” said Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Golden.  “We welcome this federal support to help the food supply chain weather the pandemic, and we encourage eligible producers, distributors, processors and other small agricultural businesses to apply as quickly as possible.”

For the PRS grants, eligible entities are detailed in the Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program forecast.  Eligible entities should visit the PRS grant portal at https://usda-prs.grantsolutions.gov for complete information on the program, including how to obtain a free-of-charge DUNS Number BEFORE applying for this program.  On September 23, USDA will issue another announcement indicating that entities may submit their applications through the grant portal; entities will need their DUNS number to submit an application.

For the Seafood PRS grants, USDA will allocate block grant funding to U.S. states and territories based on a formula that considers economic activity as demonstrated through commercial fisheries landings. Eligible entities are state agencies as detailed in the Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program forecast.  The state agency will then provide funds to seafood processing facilities and processing vessels.  Seafood processors and processing vessels should apply directly through their State agency; seafood processors and processing vessels should not apply through PRS and should instead contact their state agency for financial assistance once USDA awards funds to states.  A listing of state contacts will be made available on the USDA website.  Tribal government owned eligible entities may apply directly to USDA, details of which will be developed through tribal consultation in conjunction with the Office of Tribal Relations.

 Updated information regarding the PRS and Seafood PRS programs will be available on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website: www.ams.usda.gov.

 Any grant application submitted after the due date will not be considered unless the applicant provides documentation of an extenuating circumstance that prevented their timely submission of the grant application. Read more in AMS Late and Non-Responsive Application Policy.