Washington, DC – The House Committee on Small Business hearing on the impact of the pandemic on food systems included testimony from Slade Gorton CEO, Kim Gorton. Her family-owned small business produces more than 200 million seafood meals annually. Gorton represents the fifth generation in the seafood industry, and she is also a leader of the National Fisheries Institute.
Gorton’s testimony included a primer on the seafood value chain.
“More than 1.7 million Americans work along that supply chain. About half a million men and women work at various places along the middle of this supply chain, many for small family run companies like mine, taking the product from the pier and transforming it into what you enjoy at a restaurant or in your home. Without us, the fishermen’s bounty would never make it off the docks, severing a vital link that gets seafood from our oceans to our tables,” said Gorton.
Describing the business impacts of the pandemic, she explained how sudden food service closures left distributors with crushing debt and implored Congress for assistance. “We estimate that the seafood industry has about $2.2 billion in outstanding bad debt, and other distributors have about $10 billion. Small businesses cannot absorb a deficit of this magnitude. We need help to fix this,”
The Committee has oversight over the Small Business Administration (SBA). Since the early days of the pandemic, the SBA has distributed approximately $525 billion in stimulus funding.
“If we are going to help the economy get back on track, we need to help small businesses survive this pandemic, especially restaurants,” said Gorton. “It is imperative that Congress pass another stimulus bill.”
Numerous proposals for a further stimulus bill are currently under congressional consideration.
NFI is the leading trade association for the seafood community in the United States. For more information, visit our website at www.AboutSeafood.com.