The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (MDAC) and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) will manage a $1,606,446 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support seafood processors, processing facilities and processing vessels through the Seafood Processors Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program.
The program is funded by the Pandemic Assistance that was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This will help in defraying the expenses of preparing, preventing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic for seafood processing facilities and vessels.
MDMR and MDAC will distribute the funds with the assistance of a consulting firm. There will be an application process in which payments will be distributed between January 27, 2020 to December 31, 2021.
The MDMR and MDAC will determine funding amounts based on their local conditions and industry needs. Funds can cover activities associated with the following:
- Workplace safety measures, including, but not limited to, personal protective equipment, sanitizer, hand washing stations, air filters, thermometers, cleaning supplies or similar items.
- Market pivots, such as the transition to virtual/online sales costs (online platform development and fees, online marketing, credit card processing fees), supplies, new signage.
- Retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety (retrofitting harvester vessels for onboard vessel processing to maximize open-air activities, plexiglass, walk-up windows, heat lamps, fans, tents, propane, weights, tables, chairs).
- Additional transportation costs incurred to maintain social distancing.
- Additional worker housing costs incurred to maintain social distancing or to allow for quarantining of new or exposed employees.
- Medical: unreimbursed costs associated with providing or enabling vaccinations, testing or healthcare treatment of infected employees, including any paid leave.
Each facility or vessel must apply for funding separately and processors can only apply once for each location or vessel. Funds will be distributed based on eligibility and availability.
The application period is not yet open. Once available, program details and eligibility requirements will be posted on the MDMR website at www.dmr.ms.gov.