On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law, which provides additional relief for the nation’s small businesses and hard-hit industries for programs the Small Business Administration (SBA) is currently administering and adds new efforts. Specifically, the new law includes:
$7.25 billion additional for the Paycheck Protection Program, including to expand eligibility to additional nonprofits and digital news services
NEW: $28.6 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund for industry-focused grants
NEW: $100 million to establish a Community Navigator pilot program; grants will go to eligible organizations supporting efforts to improve access to COVID–19 pandemic assistance programs and resources.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and HeroX announced the grand prize winners of a competition that invited the public to submit innovative solutions to preserve the flavor of farmed catfish and prevent the blue-green algae that delays catfish harvesting.
The competition, Preserving the Natural Flavor of Catfish Challenge, launched in August 2020 and called on a global community of solvers to submit a strategy that benefits the nation's catfish farmers and prevents the "earthy" or "muddy" taste in catfish. Judges evaluated submissions for the best overall approach for pre-harvest management practices, pre-harvest treatment technologies, and post-harvest treatment technologies.
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, causing illness, death, and widespread economic devastation. Businesses closed and unemployment surged to levels not seen since the Great Depression.
A new issue brief from the Small Business Administration (SBA), Office of Advocacy, The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Small Businesses, examines the effects of COVID-19 on small businesses.
While economic damage was widespread, the severity varied substantially across locations, industries, and demographic categories. Locations with larger declines included metropolitan and coastal areas. Industries with larger declines included restaurants and taxi and limousine services. Differences by location and industry contributed to differences across demographic categories, with larger declines for Asian and Black business owners.
In addition to presentations on aquaculture drug approval progress updates and associated research, we invite presentations surrounding the topic of drug indexing. As an alternative to the drug approval process for non-food producing minor species and non-food early life stages of food-producing minor species, indexing provides a faster and less expensive process to obtain legal marketing status for eligible products.
If you’re interested in giving a presentation on aquaculture drug approval progress, updates or indexing, please contact Julie Schroeter for more information by June 23, 2021.
Support HR 628!
The Shellfish Aquaculture Improvement Act
The Shellfish Aquaculture Improvement Act will exempt aquaculture workers from unintended consequences of the Merchant Marine Act that inflate insurance costs and expose our employers to unlimited liability.
The shellfish farming community is seeking for the same exclusion from the Merchant Marine Act so that aquaculture farmers can cover employees under state workers’ compensation insurance instead. Why is this change needed?
Aquaculture employees are not “seamen” in the traditional sense of the term. Seamen working on the high seas cannot be covered under state workers compensation insurance, so it makes sense that they need special insurance. Aquaculture workers on near-shore farms in state waters should be insured by state workers’ compensation insurance.
Shellfish aquaculture is a near-shore, water-dependent farming operation, normally conducted solely within state waters. These activities have no relevance to the Merchant Marine Act's original national security and coastal commerce intent.
In many states Merchant Marine Act insurance costs much more than state workers compensation insurance, (often several times more) so aquaculture farms could save thousands on their insurance bills annually if this measure passes.
Aquaculture firms in many states are forced to purchase both a Jones Act insurance endorsement and pay into state workers compensation programs, paying twice to cover each employee.
Under the Merchant Marine Act employees who suffer serious injury can sue their employer for maintenance and cure, and those lawsuits can quickly exceed the Jones Act insurance cap, crippling or bankrupting the farm.
The results from the Q4 survey close out an eventful and complicated year for the U.S. aquaculture and aquaponics sectors and their allied businesses. Q4 findings clearly demonstrate that the industry was still experiencing negative impacts from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic at the end of 2020.
Many of these effects and impacts were similar to the trends captured in previous quarterly surveys. The Q4 responses also indicate that there are longer-term effects and secondary impacts materializing for the industry as the pandemic continues. While many Q4 respondents were successful in obtaining assistance and relief, it is unclear whether these measures will be sufficient to address the continuing impacts and resulting consequences for producers during 2021.
NOAA Sea Grant Awards $4.7 Million to Strengthen Economics of U.S. Aquaculture
Today, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Sea Grant Program, announced $4.7 million in federal funding to support 12 research projects to advance the understanding of the economics of aquaculture businesses and provide the industry with important market information to aid sustainable growth in the United States.
The new projects:
Support broad, non-proprietary research to address critical gaps with respect to aquaculture economics and market needs;
Make that information available to U.S. aquaculture businesses and management agencies; and
Build the capacity of Sea Grant and its partners, including Sea Grant aquaculture extension personnel and industry stakeholders.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has posted one or two-page fact sheets explaining the science, production practices, regulations, policies or programs behind significant marine aquaculture topics.
National Law Review Article Examines New marine Aquaculture NWP's
A January 15th article in The National Law Review entitled, U.S. Army Corps Issues Final Nationwide Permits for Aquaculture, describes the recent final rule by the US Army Corps of Engineers for a revised shellfish farming nationwide permit (NWP 48) and the two new nationwide permits for seaweed and marine finfish culture, NWPs 55 and 56. The authors also delve a bit deeper and present how the transition to a new Administration or Congress could impact the rule.
SBA & Treasury Announce PPP Re-Opening; Issue New Guidance
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make First Draw PPP Loans on Monday, January 11, and Second Draw PPP Loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter. Updated PPP guidance outlining Program changes to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility was released on January 6 in accordance with the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Venues Act.
NAA Comments on the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act
The National Aquaculture Association (NAA) provided comments to the House Committee on Natural Resources regarding HR 8632, Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020.
We respectfully recommended the legislation be amended to examine the regulatory (i.e., increased costs) on domestic seafood production, both wild caught and farmed. If the United States imposes carbon-based restrictions domestically, then those provisions should equitably be required of nations exporting to the United States. An example to emulate for the Blue Carbon Program occurs in Section 101 in the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This section authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to ban the importation of commercial fish or products from fish which have been caught with commercial fishing technology which results in the incidental kill or incidental serious injury of ocean mammals in excess of United States standards (16 U.S.C. 1371 Sec. 101(c)).
This annual survey collects information on water acreage, inventory, and sales. The information helps evaluate conditions from year-to-year, and promote programs designed to ensure the viability of catfish producers.
Producers will be contacted in the coming weeks, and response to the survey is important to ensure quality statistics about the catfish industry. If you have not responded in the past and would like to contribute to the survey or have questions about the survey, contact Tony Dorn, USDA NASS, at 202-690-3223 or .
The FDACS Division of Aquaculture published a monthly newsletter to keep all who subscribe up-to-date in local, state, and national news that is important to aquaculture producers, suppliers, and supporters throughout the state.
NAA Offers Recommendations to
the Biden-Harris Transition Team
The National Aquaculture Association wrote the Biden-Harris Transition team members responsible for the Department of Commerce and US Department of Agriculture on behalf of 3,000 farms located throughout the United States producing aquatic animals and plants for seafood, recreational, ornamental or biological control markets. We offered the following recommendations to produce high-quality, nutritious seafood, rebalance trade, and increase employment, support rural inland and coastal communities. And we offered the Biden-Harris Transition our services to provide additional information or arrange farm tours to see US aquaculture in-action.
The Aquaculture Review Council (ARC) and the Division of Aquaculture develops this plan annually for the purposes of creating new technologies, improved farm productivity, increased farm income and employment and other economic and environmental benefits to the state of Florida.
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced extended deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, until 2022.
All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note.
All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note.
COVID-19 EIDL loans are offered at very affordable terms, with a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% interest rate for nonprofit organizations, a 30-year maturity. Interest continues to accrue during the deferment period and borrowers may make full or partial payments if they choose.
Questions on SBA COVID-19 EIDL and disaster loan payments can be answered by email at DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov or by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339).
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Aquatic Animal Drug Approval Partnership (AADAP) announced today that for calendar year 2021, they will not be charging Investigational New Animal Drug (INAD) enrollment fees for the use of any of the INADs currently available. Please see this letter detailing 2021 INAD Fee Suspension from the USFWS Assistant Director of Fish and Aquatic Conservation, David Hoskins, for further information.
INAD participants will still need to enroll with AADAP, as per usual, for the INAD use to be considered legal, and so AADAP staff can continue to collect the INAD use data.
For questions, please contact Julie C. Schroeter, Fish Biologist, USFWS AADAP, (406) 994-9910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAA Comments on Proposed FDA High-Risk Food Traceability Regulation
The National Aquaculture Association (NAA) submitted a comment letter in response to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule requiring farms and processors to: 1) increase the amount of information shared forward concerning high-risk foods to buyers or processors in the food marketing chain and 2) create an electronic records archive to respond in 24-hours to agency inquiry. The agency’s goal is to speed up trace-backs in the event of a food triggered illness.
The agency identified fish, crustaceans and shellfish as high-risk foods. The NAA commented that farmed fish, crustaceans and shellfish are not high-risk foods or, in the case of farmed shellfish, are regulated through the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference, which has been active since 1925, to achieve the goal of rapid traceability. Specifically, the NAA requested:
Farmed live or iced fish and crustaceans be exempted from the proposed rule. These products do not pose high-risk hazards to the consumer because potential food safety hazards are mitigated through seafood hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) regulations imposed by FDA and the states and aquatic animal drug availability and use is highly regulated by FDA and the states.
Farmed shellfish be granted a waiver in deference to the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference so that if changes are needed to the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, the Conference can assess and adopt changes. The NAA noted the proposed rule appears to be duplicative of existing regulations and will create new compliance costs and contradictory regulations that will create confusion in the marketplace
The National Aquaculture Association (NAA) extends our thanks and appreciation to the veterinarians of the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), who have been deployed to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
President Biden recently announced his goal of distributing 100 million COVID-19 vaccines to Americans in the first 100 days of his Administration. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is leading the vaccination effort, and APHIS has deployed 119 employees to assist in several states. The majority of APHIS’ deployed employees are assigned to Nevada and Oklahoma where they are helping to vaccinate people at a variety of rapid points of distribution including mobile teams and pop-up clinics. Dr. Kathleen Hartman, Lori Gustafson and Chris Ellis, APHIS veterinarians critical to the success of the Aquaculture Program, have been deployed to Las Vegas Nevada.
FMCSA Extends National
Emergency Declaration for
Commercial Vehicle Drivers
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has again extended a modified national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service (HOS) regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting vaccines and emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.
This notice continues the relief granted in Emergency Declaration 2020-002, as modified on June 15, 2020, August 15, 2020, and December 1, 2020, through May 31, 2021 subject to the restrictions and limitations.
Florida Aquaculture Educators Workshop & System Awards for K-12 Educators
The FDACS Division of Aquaculture, in partnership with the University of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Lab (UF TAL) and the FDACS Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness, are excited to announce a new opportunity for Florida K-12 science and agriculture educators.
Funded by a USDA Farm to School grant, FDACS and UF TAL will host a 3-day, hands-on aquaculture education workshop in July 2021 and competitively award up to 20 recirculating aquaculture systems, water testing kits and aquaponics supplies to schools throughout the state.
The National Aquaculture Association (NAA) will be holding a virtual annual membership meeting the evening of February 24, 2021 from 5 to 7 pm eastern time.
The membership meeting will consist of:
A summary of advocacy activities during 2020.
Plans for advocacy efforts in 2021.
An announcement by appointed Inspectors of Election of the two candidates elected by the membership to represent the Individual member category to the Board of Directors.
Two simultaneous caucuses by 1) National or Regional Aquaculture Associations and 2) State or Species Aquaculture Associations that are NAA members, respectively, to fill open Board of Director membership positions for three-year terms. The caucuses will occur in breakout rooms during the virtual meeting.
Please participate in the Virginia Tech and The Ohio State University organized Quarter 4 (2020) national survey of the effects of the 2020 pandemic on your aquaculture farm or business. Even if you have not been negatively affected, the pandemic economic impacts are needed to effectively report what is happening to US aquaculture.
USDA Hosts Bird Management & Coastal Shellfish Production Webinar
Please join the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program on Wednesday, February 17, at 1:00 p.m. ET for a webinar to talk about bird management and coastal shellfish production. Wildlife Services experts will share a variety of solutions for reducing the presence of birds around coastal farms. Please feel free to share this invitation with any coastal shellfish producers who may be interested in attending.
FWS Finalizes New Special Permit for Cormorant Management in Lower 48 States
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has released a final rule and final environmental impact statement (EIS) to responsibly manage conflicts associated with double-crested cormorants in the United States.
Under the rule, which becomes effective February 12, 2021, a new special permit for interested states and tribes will complement existing measures to address conflicts with cormorants to protect human health and safety, personal property and threatened and endangered species.
USDA Proposing Rule to Regulate Movement of Genetically Engineered Agriculture Animals
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Food Safety Inspection Service are jointly soliciting public comment on establishing regulations for the movement of certain animals modified or developed by genetic engineering.
Under the regulatory framework being contemplated, USDA would promulgate regulations using the authorities granted to the Department through the Animal Health Protection Act, the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA). Pursuant to these authorities, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would conduct a safety assessment of animals subject to the FMIA or PPIA that have been modified or developed using genetic engineering that may increase the animal’s susceptibility to pests or diseases of livestock, including zoonotic diseases, or ability to transmit the same. The Food Safety and Inspection Service would conduct a pre-slaughter food safety assessment to ensure that the slaughter and processing of certain animals modified or developed using genetic engineering would not result in a product that is adulterated or misbranded.
Within the recent Executive Order, Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth, Section 7, Aquaculture Opportunity Areas, directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) to identify areas in federal marine waters appropriate for aquaculture. In a new 3-1/2 minute video, the agency describes their goals, responsibilities, approach, sideboards and invites public engagement. Click here to watch or share.
The AskUSDA Contact Center will serve as the “one front door” for phone, chat, and web inquires, transforming how the public interacts with the Department. AskUSDA also offers over five thousand articles on , providing a self-service option to address the most common issues and questions.
CFAP 2 will provide up to $14 billion to eligible producers of certain row crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, aquaculture and more. All eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found on farmers.gov/cfap. CFAP 2 is a separate program from the first iteration of the program (CFAP 1) and interested producers must complete a new application to be eligible for payment for CFAP 2.
U.S. Aquaculture: Economic Recovery
The U.S. Aquaculture Society (USAS) has posted a recording of the recent virtual conference entitled, U.S. Aquaculture: Economic Recovery Through Aquaculture, that occurred on October 1, 2020. Topics included: Status of the National Aquaculture Development Plan, Aquaculture Development Plans from Other Countries, Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on the U.S. Aquaculture Industry, and U.S. Aquaculture: Opportunities and Conditions for Continued Growth,
The School of Aquaculture and Aquatics Sciences at Kentucky State University is proud to announce the availability of the Aquaponics Production Manual: A Practical Handbook for Growers.
This 75-page comprehensive manual covers the biological concepts of aquaponics, types of systems, suitable fish and plant species, systems management, water quality, disease of plants and fish, controlled environments (greenhouse and indoors), marketing and economics, as well information on certification and regulations. It is written at a level to be practical resource for practicing (or potential) aquaponic producers.
FDACS Division of Aquaculture Develops Aquaculture Commodity Map
The FDACS Division of Aquaculture recently developed and published a map showcasing the numerous aquaculture commodities by locations within the state. This map is just one-way producers and consumers are able to learn about the great diversity of Florida's aquaculture industry.
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) within the Department of Commerce is accepting applications for the Build to Scale program, a $38 million funding opportunity that fuels tech-based economic development in regional economies.
The FY21 Build to Scale program is comprised of two competitions –– the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge. The Venture Challenge seeks to support high-growth entrepreneurship, accelerate company growth in the applicant’s region, and scale proven entrepreneurship support models. The Capital Challenge increases access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply by providing operational support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks, or investor training programs.
The Venture Challenge grants have two funding levels – up to $750,000 to build programs and up to $1.5 million to scale programs. The Capital Challenge offers grants up to $400,000.
Introducing the AMAZONAS Jobs Board in Partnership with the FTFFA
Looking to hire an employee for your aquarium-related business or organization? Whether fish farm, hatchery, retail, wholesale, distribution, public aquaria, academia, the AMAZONAS Jobs Board can help you find qualified, passionate candidates who have aquarium-related interests and experience! All types of positions are welcomed from management and accountants to warehouse, animal husbandry, sales, general fish farm staff, researcher…as long as it’s aquarium related! Job postings are free for FTFFA farm members and a nominal charge for others.
BADDL Potentially Expanding to Include Aquaculture
The FDACS Division of Animal Industry, Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (BADDL) currently aids in the research, education, and diagnostic services within veterinary community and veterinarian medicine. The laboratory’s objectives are to provide accurate and prompt diagnostic service to veterinary practitioners, animal producers, state/federal regulatory officials, and the public. BADDL provides a vital role in protecting animal and human health by identifying many animal diseases through rapid and accurate diagnostic testing.
As the aquaculture industry expands in the state of Florida, there is also a growing need for an adequate diagnostic lab for aquaculture producers. FDACS is seeking support for this endeavor.
USDA Temporarily Suspends Debt Collections, Foreclosures and Other Activities on Farm Loans
Due to the national public health emergency caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA).
This announcement by USDA expands previous actions undertaken by the Department to lessen financial hardship. According to USDA data, more than 12,000 borrowers—approximately 10% of all borrowers—are eligible for the relief announced today. Overall, FSA lends to more than 129,000 farmers, ranchers and producers.
The temporary suspension is in place until further notice and is expected to continue while the national COVID-19 disaster declaration is in place.
You’re invited to USDA’s forum Building Resilience in Agricultural & Food Systems through Innovative and Strategic Partnerships on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 from 1:00-4:30 pm EST.
Presenters include leaders from USDA, Ag industry and community organizations followed by open Q&A discussion. This forum discussion will highlight how innovative and strategic partnerships between federal, state, local and private partners support the building of resilience in agricultural and food systems, with a focus on food systems and disaster recovery. Held in conjunction with USDA’s Ag Outlook Forum, this Microsoft Teams Live Event is hosted by USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) and Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) Mission Area.
USDA Announces MOU for Animal Biotechnology Regulation
USDA) announced the finalization of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outlining responsibilities concerning the regulation of certain animals developed using genetic engineering that are intended for agricultural purposes (such as human food, fiber, and labor). This MOU complements USDA’s issuance of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on the Movement of Animals Modified or Developed by Genetic Engineering on December 28, 2020.
Corps Modifies or Creates Three Marine Aquaculture Nationwide Permits
US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) released a final rule reissuing and modifying 12 existing NWPs, including NWP 48 Shellfish Mariculture Activities, and issuing four new NWPs, including NWP 55 Seaweed Mariculture Activities and NWP 56 Finfish Mariculture Activities.
USDA Seeks Members for Advisory Committee on Urban Agriculture
USDA) is seeking members for a new advisory committee on urban agriculture, part of a broader effort to focus on the needs of urban farmers. The 12-person committee will advise the Secretary of Agriculture on the development of policies and outreach relating to urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices as well as identify any barriers to urban agriculture.
Nominations should include a cover letter, resume and a background form. Nomination packages must be submitted by mail or email by March 5, 2021. They should be addressed to Ronald Harris, Designated Federal Officer, Director of Outreach and Partnerships, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 6006-S, Washington, D.C. 20250, or emailed to .
USDA Announces Proposal to Assume Agriculture Animal Biotechnology
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a significant step in modernizing regulations of agricultural animals modified or produced by genetic engineering. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be moving forward with an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit public input and feedback on a contemplated regulatory framework that would modernize our system into a scientifically-sound, risk-based, and predictable process that facilitates the development and use of these technologies for U.S. farmers and ranchers under USDA’s authorities. This initiative follows President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on agricultural biotechnology that called upon federal agencies to make regulatory improvements to rectify some of the long-standing barriers to innovation for U.S. agriculture.
USDA’s Role in Supporting Farmers
of Fish, Shellfish and Aquatic Plants
The USDA is hosting a webinar Dec. 11th at 9 AM EST. The webinar will raise the visibility of aquaculture within USDA and provide valuable engagement opportunities for farmers interested in USDA programs.
The webinar will feature presentations from USDA leaders; stakeholders representing seaweeds, shellfish, finfish and other sectors of agriculture; and report outs from each of the six Deep Dive sessions that occurred during November. The webinar will be captured as a publication to inform agency leadership and aquafarming community going forward.
If you produce any aquaculture products and want to make sure that you are counted in the 2022 Census of Agriculture and the 2023 Census of Aquaculture, please sign up your operation using this online form: https://www.agcounts.usda.gov/cgi-bin/counts/
As of November 3, 2020, the FDACS Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement is investigating a buyer scam case and further details are not available. Aquaculture businesses who would like information about filing a complaint against a business or who believe fraud is taking place should contact the Division of Aquaculture directly for assistance at (850) 617-7600 or (850) 352-9832 for Spanish speakers.