USDA is requesting comments on a proposed rule that would establish the procedures and eligibility criteria for receiving assistance under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers Program. This program applies to producers of raw agricultural commodities and fishermen who must show a greater than 15% decrease in the national average price, the quantity of production, value of production, or cash receipts compared to the average of the three preceding marketing years. The assistance includes help in developing a business adjustment plan that can serve as a guide for adjusting a producer's business operation to prevailing economic conditions.
According to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the proposed rule is necessary, because when the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act reauthorized the program it made fundamental changes to the nature of the program, which also required changes to program regulations. The new legislation focuses on providing technical assistance and now ties cash payments to completing an initial and long-term business adjustment plan, a requirement that was not part of the expired program.
"Helping American producers adjust to a changing and unpredictable economic environment is critical during these challenging times," said Vilsack. "The TAA for Farmers program can provide technical assistance and cash benefits to eligible producers who have been hurt by import competition."
The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Aug. 25, 2009. The deadline for receiving written comments is Sept. 24, 2009.