Farm Bill Legislation

Traversing Policy: Southstream Seafoods’ Contribution to the Farm Bill

Traversing Policy: Southstream Seafoods’ Contribution to the Farm Bill

As the House and Senate work on the proposed Farm Bill legislation, the emerging framework, for the first time ever, reflects a significant focus on seafood. This increased emphasis on seafood marks a significant turning point in legislative priorities, a shift that owes much to the collaborative efforts of industry stakeholders, including a Southstream Seafood employee, Tomas Conde, who actively participated in advocacy initiatives with The Future Leaders during their lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill in May.

These engagements involved meetings with key offices such as those of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Jack Reed, Representative Seth Magaziner, and Representative Gabe Amo. The Future Leaders team addressed crucial agenda items, advocating for the establishment of an Office of Seafood Policy within the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist and pushing for trade policies that secure access to essential seafood products for Americans’ long-term health.

Recent developments within the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate frameworks, encompassing both Democrat and Republican perspectives, reflect a growing awareness of the importance of seafood. Provisions include support for seafood in nutrition programs, a focus on aquaculture, efforts to provide much-needed credit to seafood-related businesses through programs like the Food Supply Chain Grant and Guaranteed Loan Program, and the creation of a seafood liaison at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enhance coordination on seafood policy. Additionally, there are proposals for technical assistance to bolster cold chain capacity and strategies to expand seafood processing in coastal communities.

The participation of a Southstream Seafoods’ employee who lobbied on Capitol Hill in May, along with NFI-coordinated outreach, has played a role in shaping these legislative priorities. The efforts of The Future Leaders have contributed to establishing a seafood liaison at the USDA and advancing proposals for expanding seafood processing in coastal areas. While the path of the Farm Bill remains dynamic, with ongoing discussions poised to impact post-election sessions or potential reauthorization in 2025, the momentum for change is undeniable.

Looking ahead, the 2024 Leadership Summit scheduled for September 23-26 in Washington, D.C., offers a further opportunity to advocate for critical seafood-related issues and garner continued support. This ongoing collaboration and advocacy are essential steps toward securing a sustainable and thriving future for the seafood industry and all its stakeholders.

For those interested in learning more about the proposed Farm Bill legislation and its implications for fisheries support, we recommend reading “Fishing Groups Praise US Senate Farm Bill for Including Fisheries Support.”

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