MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama catfish producers who apply — or have already applied — have received ―group approval‖ for participation in the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Farmers program, a decision that will help streamline the application process. The application deadline is Sept. 23.
According to Mitt Walker, director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Catfish Division, the group approval means that producers who meet program eligibility requirements are not required to certify or document eligibility under Options 1, 2 or 3 on the application form. Applicants are still required to document catfish production for the 2009 marketing year, and in one of the three immediately preceding marketing years, as well as meet other eligibility requirements.
The TAA for Farmers program, which aims to combat unfair import competition, provides training to help producers increase profitability, improve production efficiency, consider marketing opportunities, and evaluate alternative enterprises. TAA will also help develop a business plan, evaluate changes and provide funding — up to $12,000 — to implement changes. 

Farmers who complete the first three phases of the program are eligible for up to $4,000. Those three phases require attending 12 to 15 hours of training and/or completion of training via the Internet, and the successful submission of an initial business plan. Farmers who complete the fourth phase of the program — individualized training and development of a long-term business adjustment plan — become eligible for an additional $8,000 in payments. Training modules for each phase of the program and the dates for the training sessions will be released in the near future. However, farmers must submit their FSA 229-1 application to the local Farm Service Agency no later than Sept. 23 to qualify.
For more information about the TAA program, visit the TAA’s web page. For questions about the sign-up process or eligibility, contact your local FSA office.

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