SPOKANE - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service announced this week that salmon fishermen in Washington may now apply for benefits under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Farmers program.

Under TAA for Farmers, 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 receiving a petition from the Puget Sound Salmon Commission, USDA investigated market conditions for Pacific salmon. FAS determined that increased imports of frozen salmon fillets contributed importantly to a decline in the landed prices for whole salmon in Washington by an average of 32.6 percent during marketing year 2002 (January-December), when compared with the previous five year average.

USDA will provide technical assistance to producers through the Washington Sea Grant Program and Washington State University. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will issue payments to eligible fishermen. Based on the weighted average of prices for three species of Pacific salmon, fishermen may receive 5.6 cents per pound for the salmon they landed in Washington during 2002.

Salmon fishermen in Washington may obtain a TAA application from http://forms.sc. egov.usda.gov/eforms/mainservle, or from their local Farm Service Agency service center. FSA will also take applications at the Fish Expo Workboat Northwest at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle November 20-22, 2003. The Washington Sea Grant Program and Washington State University will also be onsite to provide technical assistance.

Fishermen have until Jan. 20, 2004, to submit their applications to FSA. After they submit their completed applications, technical assistance and training will begin as soon as possible. Financial payments will not be disbursed until after applications are certified.

For general information about the program, contact (202) 720-2916, or by e-mail at trade.adjustment@fas.usda.gov.

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