Asparagus Growers Eligible for Training, Cash

Vegetable Growers News Article, September 2010 - by Matt Milkovich, Managing Editor For the rest of the summer, U.S. asparagus growers can apply for technical training and cash benefits under a USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) program. In April, the National Asparagus Council submitted a petition to FAS requesting help from the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers Program (TAA), which "provides technical training and cash benefits to eligible U.S. producers and fishermen of raw agricultural commodities whose crops or catch have been adversely affected by imports of like or directly competitive commodities," according to FAS. After reviewing the petition, FAS determined that "increased imports of asparagus during January-December 2009 contributed to a greater than 15 percent decline in the quantity of production in 2009, compared to the average of the three preceding marketing years."

Starting June 25, asparagus producers had 90 days to apply for the TAA training and benefits. The sign-up period will end around Sept. 22, according to the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board (MAAB). Until then, producers who want to apply for the training and benefits must submit a written application to their local Farm Service Agency office. Applications are available on the FAS website, at www.fas.usda.gov/itp/taa/taaforms.asp. The TAA program should not be confused with the Market Loss Assistance Program that was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. The industry is still waiting to hear when that money will be available, according to MAAB. An FAS press release gave more details about the TAA program: "Program benefits include cash payments and free technical training designed to help producers develop and implement business adjustment plans. Producers that develop an approved initial business plan will receive up to $4,000 as payment toward implementing the plan or developing a long-term business adjustment plan. Producers who subsequently develop approved long-term business adjustment plans are entitled to receive an additional cash payment of up to $8,000 to be applied toward implementing the plan. A producer may not receive more than $12,000 or benefit from any other TAA program during the 36-month period following certification of a group petition. Travel and subsistence expenses related to attending training sessions may also be reimbursable." For more information about the program, visit www.fas.usda.gov/itp/taa, call TAA staff at (202) 720-0638 or (202) 690-0633, or e-mail tradeadjustment@fas.usda.gov.

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