The Washington State Department of Commerce announced $300,000 is now available for grants to shellfish growers impacted by declining exports and restaurant sales due to COVID-19.
With the local and global demand for shellfish dropping since January, officials say that some growers are reporting revenue declines of 80-90% over last year.
Washington is the leading U.S. producer of farmed oysters and clams.
Commerce has partnered with the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) to fund the grants with $250,000 from the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant program and $50,000 from WSDA’s Rural Rehab Program.
Some shellfish growers have successfully applied for federal resources, such as Small Business Administration loans, yet many are not in a position to take out additional loans or even qualify for these federal resources, Brown said.
The concerns of Washington’s shellfish industry extend to approximately nine West Coast hatcheries from California to British Columbia that supply shellfish growers in Washington and beyond.
These hatcheries have experienced a significant drop in sales to growers.
To both growers and hatchery owners, the cost of seed and larvae represents significant components of their cost models. Reduction in revenue caused by the coronavirus have growers are worried about not having enough funds to purchase seed to plant out next year’s crops or offset the cost of raising seed.
Commerce and WSDA will work with Impact Washington to administer the funding through the Washington Shellfish Industry Seed Bank. Qualified growers may apply for up to $5,000, with a minimum of $1,000 available to reimburse for larvae and seed purchases. Qualified purchases made between Feb. 29, 2020 and June 30, 2021 are eligible for reimbursement.
An additional $300 “Buy Washington” will be offered to encourage purchasing from Washington-based hatcheries, rather than out-of-state sources.
Learn more on the Commerce website.
Find grant applications here.