In 2010, the Southern Shrimp Alliance successfully petitioned for shrimp harvested in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas) to be considered an eligible commodity for the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers program in FY2010. Shrimp was one of only three agricultural commodity products approved for the program in FY2010 (along with catfish and asparagus).
Following certification, SSA worked with USDA officials to address concerns that extensive documentation requirements would prevent otherwise eligible fishermen from participating in the program. In response, the USDA developed revised guidelines for acceptance of TAA applications that eliminated requirements to produce voluminous documents with an application and refined the process of obtaining certifications of price declines on a regional basis. SSA worked closely with Sea Grant and numerous federal and state agencies throughout the southeast to gather price and landings data in order to request group certifications in attempt to attain “blanket eligibility” for several regions. Shortly before the application deadline on September 23, 2010, the USDA certified that prices for shrimp in certain areas of Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina were lower in 2008 than the average prices for shrimp in 2005, 2006, and 2007. As the result of these certifications, shrimpers in these regions were eligible to participate in the FY2010 program if they could demonstrate that they landed shrimp in 2008 and in any one of the three preceding years (2005-2007).
In all, nearly 4,000 members of the industry from throughout the eight states applied to participate in the FY2010 TAA program. The vast majority of these applications have been approved by the USDA. If those who have been accepted in the program fully participate in the TAA training and technical assistance, the total amount distributed to the shrimp industry in financial assistance to further adjustment goals could reach $40 million. Such an amount would significantly exceed the estimated $15 million in financial assistance disbursed to shrimp fishermen under the previous TAA for farmers program (2003-2004).
For those in the industry that have applied to participate in the TAA program and been approved, it is essential to pay close attention to deadlines for meeting the particular requirements of the program. For example, all approved applicants must complete the Initial Orientation by December 22, 2010 in order to be eligible to receive benefits under the TAA program. In the next few days, FY2010 applicants should receive a letter concerning upcoming TAA training opportunities. Some states will be offering the Initial Orientation at workshops held at various locations. Those states offering workshops should be contacting you in the near future concerning scheduled workshops. Please see www.taaforfarmers.org for possible locations near you.
Participants are required to complete “Initial and Intensive Technical Assistance” and develop an “Initial Business Plan” in order to receive $4,000 to implement the “Initial Business Plan.” Once this stage is successfully completed, shrimpers may additionally get assistance in developing a “Long-Term Business Adjustment Plan” and an additional $8,000 to implement that plan. Shrimpers that have been approved for the FY2010 TAA program should make sure that they know what is expected of them and the dates by which requirements need to be met in order to receive benefits under the program.
Although the vast majority of applications for TAA appear to have been approved, SSA understands that some have been rejected. If you receive a notice that your application has not been approved and you believe that the decision has been
made in error, you are permitted to appeal the rejection. Under the agency’s regulations, you are required to “file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the date that the notification of the adverse determination was sent” with the USDA.
Further, SSA has also successfully petitioned for shrimp to again be an eligible commodity for the FY2011 TAA program. For those who are not already participating in the FY2010 TAA program, the application deadline for the FY2011 program is December 23, 2010. The total amount available for the TAA program in FY2011 ($22.5 million) is substantially smaller than the total amount available for the FY2010 program ($90 million) and, in result, benefits under the FY2011 program are likely to be significantly less than those received under the FY2010 program. However, how much less these benefits will be is unknown and entirely dependent on the number of applications approved by USDA. Every eligible shrimper who thinks that he or she can benefit from the TAA program is encouraged to apply.
Shrimpers in 24 parishes in Louisiana, 35 counties in Florida, and 4 counties in South Carolina (see the full list of these parishes and counties and the name of the corresponding FSA office below) need only demonstrate that they landed shrimp in 2008 and in one of the three prior years between 2005 and 2007 in order to establish their eligibility for the FY2011 program. SSA will continue to work with industry members, academics, and government officials to obtain price certification for additional regions in the Gulf and South Atlantic in advance of the December 23, 2010 deadline for FY2011 programs.
Additional information regarding the TAA for farmers program and SSA’s work with USDA regarding the program is available at SSA’s website: http://www.shrimpalliance.com.
A list summarizing the areas approved for Gulf eligibility.
An extended white paper on SSA’s role in TAA