USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service has certified a petition for catfish producers in 18 states who filed for financial aid under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers program.

The 18 states in which producers are eligible: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

Under the TAA program, USDA provides technical assistance and cash benefits to producers if an increase in imports of a like commodity has contributed importantly to a decline in price and a loss of income.

After an investigation of the petition, FAS determined that, during January-December 2002, increased imports of catfish and fillets of Vietnamese basa and tra contributed importantly to a decline in domestic prices for catfish producers in the above states, when compared with the previous 5-year average.

Producers may obtain a TAA application (FSA-229) from http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eforms/mainservlet or from their local Farm Service Agency service center.

Producers have until Feb. 17, 2004, to submit their application to FSA. After they submit completed applications, technical assistance and training will begin as soon as possible. Financial payments will not be made until after applications are certified.

For further information about the TAA program, contact Jean-Louis Pajot, Coordinator, Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers, FAS, USDA, (202) 720-2916, e-mail: trade.assistance@fas.usda.gov.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com