Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced The Texas Department of Agriculture is currently accepting applications for Phase 2 of the 2007 Catfish Feed Grant Program. Producers who suffered catfish feed losses due to natural disasters between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 30, 2007 are eligible to apply for the program. Disasters include: drought, excessive heat, wildfires, hail, tornadoes, high winds, and severe rainstorms. The program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“When a natural disaster strikes it can take years for families and businesses to rebuild. This grant money is assisting catfish farmers who are still struggling, to get back to business and improve the aquaculture industry in Texas,” Commissioner Staples said.

Under federal guidelines, an eligible producer is one who raises catfish in a controlled environment as part of a farming operation; has risk in the production of catfish; suffered catfish feed losses as a direct result of a presidential or secretarial declared disaster during Jan. 1, 2007 - Dec. 30, 2007; has records on file with the USDA Farm Service Agency showing compliance with program adjusted gross income limitations and conservation compliance provisions; and has not received assistance under other disaster programs for the same loss.

Applicants who applied for Phase 1 of the Catfish Feed Grant Program have the option to select Jan. 1, 2007 - Dec. 30, 2007 as their elected period of loss in place of the period selected on their first application.

Producers applying for assistance must be able to verify feed losses with supporting documentation, such as receipts and feed bills. ?Producers with questions about the program should contact Lindsay A. Dickens, grants specialist, at 512-463-6695 or lindsay.dickens@tda.state.tx.us.

Payments are limited to $80,000 per person and cannot exceed actual feed losses. A general partnership or joint venture may receive a maximum total assistance amount of $80,000 multiplied by the number of members in the general partnership or joint venture.

Applications are available on the TDA Web site or by contacting TDA. Completed application materials and supporting documents must be received by March 28, 2008. Materials should be mailed to the Texas Department of Agriculture at 2007 Catfish Feed Grant Program - Phase 2, P.O. Box 12847, Austin, Texas 78711 or faxed to (888) 223-9048.