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 USDA to eligible farmers. Participants also will have access to the U.S. Department of Labor's retraining and educational programs.

Before receiving cash payments, applicants must receive free technical assistance training from MSU Extension Service agents.

MSU's Extension Service has scheduled three regional meetings, each beginning at 10 a.m.: Feb. 23 at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Miss.; March 9 at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond, Miss.; March 10 at the Bost Extension Building at MSU in Starkville, Miss.