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Catfish farmers face program deadlines
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The deadline for catfish producers to apply for cash assistance to offset import competition and the required technical training is fast approaching.
Producers wanting to receive Trade Adjustment Assistance, established by the Trade Adjustment Act of 2003, must submit applications in person, by fax or electronically to local Farm Service Agency county offices by Feb. 17. The program provides money and technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eligible farmers. Participants also will have access to the U.S. Department of Labor's retraining and educational programs.
Terry Hanson, associate professor of agricultural economics at Mississippi State University, said before receiving cash payments, applicants must receive free technical assistance training from MSU Extension Service agents. Producers will learn how to measure their financial soundness, steps to take if in financial distress and opportunities to reduce production costs. Agents will offer alternative marketing strategies as well as other information about alternative species they might consider raising or other non-aquacultural uses for their land. Worst case scenarios of how to transition out of business are covered also.
"Extension agents will review the world trade outlook for catfish and help farmers evaluate their financial liability," Hanson said. "Agents will guide producers through a review of their farm's resources and discuss production efficiencies, such as how to make more money by increasing output or by lowering cost of production."
MSU's Extension Service has scheduled three regional meetings, each beginning at 10 a.m. The first meeting will be Feb. 23 at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. The second meeting will be March 9 at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond. The final meeting will be March 10 at the Bost Extension Building at MSU.
For information on eligibility, contact the local FSA office. For information on the technical assistance training, contact the local Extension Service.
Contact: Dr. Terry Hanson, (662) 325-7988