Monday, March 8, 2010

Just in from Washington

Harshbarger Farm-Jake Putnam photo

WASHINGTON-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack launched USDA's Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Farmers Program to help American agricultural producers adjust to the current, challenging economic environment.

"As we work to help rural America recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers Program will create new opportunities for producers hurt by import competition," said Vilsack. "Eligible producers will receive much-needed technical assistance and cash benefits to help them adjust to the current economic environment."

In August, USDA requested public comments on a proposed rule for establishing the procedures and eligibility criteria for receiving assistance. Comments focused on payment limitations and adjusted gross income, specialty crops, and length of intensive training. The interim rule, published in the Federal Register on March 1, immediately implements the TAA for Farmers Program and provides for an additional 30-day public comment period.

Re-authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the TAA for Farmers Program applies to producers of raw agricultural commodities and fishermen who show a greater than 15 percent decrease-contributed importantly by an increase in imports-in the national average price; the quantity of production; the value of production; or in cash receipts compared to the average of the three preceding marketing years. The assistance includes help in developing business adjustment plans that can serve as a guide for adjusting a producer's business operation to prevailing economic conditions.

USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service administers the TAA for Farmers Program with assistance from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Farm Service Agency and the Agricultural Marketing Service.

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